Belfast Telegraph

Date mooted for Dillon inquest

An inquest into the sectarian murder of a hotel doorman 16 years ago could take place next spring, a coroner's court has heard.

Seamus Dillon, 45, was gunned down outside the Glengannon Hotel in Dungannon by the Loyalist Volunteer Force in December 1997.

The shooting of the Catholic father-of-three from Stewartstown, Co Tyrone, just hours after LVF leader Billy Wright was killed inside the Maze prison, was viewed as a revenge strike by the loyalist's associates.

At a preliminary hearing in Belfast, senior coroner John Leckey hinted that an inquest could be held in March or April next year.

"Thinking about my own commitments I have a gap at the end of March and Easter. I would like to aim for that," said Mr Leckey.

The inquest could last up to two weeks and is likely to be held in either Belfast or Dungannon.

There are unlikely to be requests for witnesses to screened.

Barrister Fiona Doherty, representing the coroner's office, said between 15 and 20 lever arch files of non sensitive material had been disclosed by the police.

Lawyers for Mr Dillon's widow Martina and other relatives have also been issued with two discs of sensitive material with the names of certain people redacted for security purposes.

Ms Doherty said a coded system for cross referencing had now been introduced to ensure legal teams could make sense of the material.

"These have been ciphered to allow for cross referencing," she said.

Mr Dillon's family have previously expressed frustration at the length of time taken to hold an inquest.

Their barrister, David Heraghty told the court they had prepared a statement outlining what they believe are the major issues.

Mr Heraghty said the document would be submitted to the coroner within a fortnight.

"It is in progress. A hand-written statement has been taken," he said.

Mr Dillon, a convicted IRA murderer, was working as a disco doorman when two LVF gunmen pulled into the car park and sprayed the crowded hotel entrance with 20 shots. Two other bouncers and a 14-year-old waiter were seriously injured.

On his release from prison three years earlier it is understood Mr Dillon severed ties with the IRA and he was buried without paramilitary trappings.

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