Belfast Telegraph

Daniel McColgan murder: Somebody may have tampered with CCTV at scene of UDA killing, inquest told

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Security cameras which could have captured the murder of a Catholic postman more than 12 years ago were not working when the gunmen struck, an inquest has been told.

Daniel McColgan (20) was shot dead by loyalist terrorists as he arrived for work at a sorting office on the outskirts of Belfast in January 2002.

The father-of-one was hit multiple times in the head and body as he lay face down on the ground.

Friends and members of the McColgan family wiped away tears as details of his injuries were read to the court.

His mother, Marie McColgan, did not live to see the inquest she wanted held.

Coroner John Leckey said: "I think it is very sad that she did not survive to be able to participate at the inquest into Daniel's death."

At the long-awaited hearing in Belfast's Laganside courthouse, it was revealed video cameras were installed after loyalists fired shots during a sectarian attack on the depot - in the Rathcoole estate, Newtownabbey, on the edge of the city - four or five years earlier.

But the system failed to record the murder of Mr McColgan, the court was told.

Richard Strutt, the now-retired office manager, said there had been no policy for ensuring consistent and proper use of the camera equipment or for quality assuring the recording process.

Mr Strutt told the court that when he viewed the tapes with a police officer in the immediate aftermath of the shooting he was shocked and surprised to see images from 1999.

He said: "It was horrifying what was on it. I just could not understand it.

"Nothing was recorded of that particular morning."

A gatekeeper who should have started duty at 5am on the day of the shooting, January 12, 2002, was also on sick leave, it was revealed. Mr Strutt, who left Royal Mail nine years ago, conceded it was "sheer neglect" that the workforce had not been adequately protected despite safety concerns being raised by a union representative.

"There was a failure on certain days and at certain times," he added.

Barrister Joseph McAvoy, representing the PSNI, told the inquest that when the tape was recovered it was in a fully rewound position.

Mr Leckey said it was unclear whether the system had malfunctioned, if the record button had not been pressed, or the camera had been tampered with.

He added: "It should have recorded the events surrounding Daniel McColgan's murder. The fact that it didn't is due to either a malfunction, or some individual had access to the camera and deselected the record button."

Nobody was convicted of the shooting, initially claimed by the Red Hand Commando, a cover name for the UDA.

The hearing was told that Mr McColgan, from Longlands in Newtownabbey, was a hard-working and popular member of staff who usually arrived half-an-hour early for his shift.

Background

The State Pathologist concluded that having been shot, Danny McColgan collapsed and was lying face down when most of the 11 bullets were fired. While injuries to his body and limbs would have caused massive internal bleeding, it was a shot to the side of his forehead which proved fatal. He died later at the Mater Hospital.

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