Belfast Telegraph

Detective to face weapon questions

A detective who investigated the loyalist murder of a pensioner is set to face questions on whether the misidentification of the weapon used frustrated the hunt for her killers, a coroner's court has heard.

The detective inspector has been called to give evidence when the inquest into the shooting of 76-year-old Roseann Mallon near Dungannon in 1994 resumes in the new year.

The inquest was halted last year when it emerged that the rifle used in the murder had been misidentified in original police ballistic tests.

Judge Mr Justice Weir, who is hearing the inquest, adjourned proceedings to enable revised ballistic evidence to be assessed after it was revealed that the Czech-bought assault rifle had been fired in a series of other loyalist murders in the east Tyrone area.

It was originally thought the gun was not linked to any other shootings.

Notorious killer Billy Wright, who was murdered in 1997, and two other loyalists were arrested and questioned about Ms Mallon's murder but no one was convicted.

The inquest is set to resume in January.

Barrister for the coroner's office Sean Doran told a preliminary hearing in Belfast today that the detective leading the original investigation was on the witness list.

"Calling the investigating officer may be important to explore with him what difference current information might have made to inquiries at the time," he told judge Weir.

Ms Mallon, 76, was gunned down as she watched television at a house on May 8 1994.

The spinster, who had been staying with relatives because she felt vulnerable, was unable to escape when two loyalist gunmen indiscriminately opened fire on the bungalow at Cullenrammer Road.

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) said its mid-Ulster brigade had been responsible and were targeting two of her nephews, Christopher Mallon, who was not home at the time, and Martin Mallon, who lived half a mile away.

After the shooting, Army spying equipment was found in a nearby field, sparking claims of security force collusion.

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