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Chief Constable 'has serious questions to answer'

By Allan Preston

Published 12/05/2016

The horrifying moment that Corporals Derek Wood and David Howes came under attack by a mob at an IRA funeral in 1988
The horrifying moment that Corporals Derek Wood and David Howes came under attack by a mob at an IRA funeral in 1988

The son of a north Belfast man killed during the Troubles has said police have serious questions to answer after his father's murder weapon was handed back to the Army.

James Henry Babington was 52 when he was gunned down by the IRA while walking to work on the Cavehill Road on October 4, 1989.

It was reported at the time he was mistaken for another man believed to be an IRA informer.

His son Michael Babington said police recovered the murder weapon years later, but despite identifying it, and no trial taking place, they did not keep the gun as evidence.

Mr Babington was later told the gun was one of a pair of Browning 9mm pistols taken by the Provos from two Army corporals murdered in west Belfast in 1988, Derek Wood and David Howes.

The Belfast Telegraph reported yesterday that one of the Brownings, believed to be Cpl Wood's, ended up being used by German police to train new recruits.

"My own father was killed by one of the corporals' guns," said Mr Babington.

"I know it was the same weapon because the police told me."

The gun - believed to be Cpl Howes' - was eventually recovered in a raid in west Belfast and identified as the murder weapon.

Mr Babington said he was disgusted to learn from the Police Ombudsman last December that the Browning had been handed back to the MoD. "These two guns are murder weapons in unsolved cases," he said.

"Now the German police have one and the British Army have the other. They should be being held by police for a trial.

"Why, if my father's murder is still unsolved, did the Chief Constable see fit to give the weapon back to its owners?

"I believe it's because they were happy if there never was any court case for the murder of my father, and there was never any intention to convict."

Reacting to the revelations the second of the Browning pistols had ended up with German authorities, he said: "It reinforces my belief that the police had informers and never had any intention of people being brought to justice, as it was actually their own who were involved.

"My father, probably along with others, were allowed to be killed so that others could be protected and stay within the ranks of the terrorist organisations they were in, and give more help to the security services.

"The rights or wrongs of that aren't for me to judge.

"The Chief Constable at the moment, his motto is 'Keeping people safe'. He's clearly unable to do that; he can't give justice for those who were killed in the past.

"I think he just wants to bury the past, but as a family we have a right to justice for the murder of my father."

He added: "I would like to see the Chief Constable telling us as a family what he's doing to investigate my father's murder, to ask where are both of these guns right now."

Belfast Telegraph

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