Belfast Telegraph

1973 sectarian murder case reopened

Fresh leads in a 37-year-old murder investigation have prompted detectives to reopen the cold case.

Eileen Doherty, 19, was shot dead by loyalist gunmen who hijacked the Belfast taxi she was taking home after visiting a friend during some of the worst of the Northern Ireland troubles in September 1973.

Police believe she was the victim of a random sectarian killing.

A review of the case by the police's specialist historical enquiries team (HET) has identified new evidential opportunities.

The investigation has now been transferred to detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland's serious crime branch to take forward.

Reacting to the development, Ms Doherty's family expressed hope that the killers could be finally caught.

"Eileen was murdered 37 years ago but she has always been in our thoughts," relatives said in a statement.

"The pain of losing a loved one in circumstances like this never goes away. Eileen had her whole life in front of her and it is a sin that it was taken from her. We knew that the historical enquiries team was looking at Eileen's case but this development is a surprise. We hope police can get somewhere with it."

While detectives would not reveal the nature of the evidence, they said it was sufficient to justify re-opening the case.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector John McVea, said: "This is an unusual step but one which we think is worth taking because there are sufficient grounds for believing we can catch the killers."

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