Belfast Telegraph

IRA guns trail: As more families speak out PSNI may ask Germany to return pistol Provos used to kill officer

By Allan Preston

German police may be asked to return a gun in their possession used by the IRA killers of RUC Constable John Larmour nearly 30 years ago.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday that the Browning pistol was tracked down by Mr Larmour's son Gavin during his search for answers about his father's murder in a Belfast ice cream parlour in 1988.

Further Reading

IRA guns trail conspiracy of silence fuelling family's fear that Special Branch protected 'super-tout' 

Police force is betraying its own, claims victim's daughter 

A book by Mr Larmour's brother George - They Killed The Ice Cream Man - published this week reveals an astonishing trail left by weapons used in the murder.

One of the guns used in the attack on Barnam's World of Ice Cream in Belfast on October 11, 1988, belonged to Corporal Derek Wood, who was murdered by the Provos alongside Corporal David Howes after they mistakenly drove into the path of an IRA funeral in March 1988.

Their weapons had been taken from the soldiers by the IRA during the attack.

Today Corporal Wood's pistol is being used by German police in the training of new recruits.

A second gun used in the attack on Constable Larmour was identical to an RUC-issue Ruger Speed Six, used by loyalist killer Michael Stone when he ambushed the funeral of three IRA members shot by the SAS in Gibraltar. It was eventually recovered by police here.

However, police never recovered the Browning as possible evidence in other murder investigations.

In 2008 George Larmour asked the now disbanded Historical Enquiries Team to have the Browning 9mm brought back from Germany to see if it could be used for evidential purposes, but it never was.

Following yesterday's revelations in this newspaper, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: "This weapon was seized by German police in relation to criminality on the Continent.

"HET later examined whether it should be returned to the UK, but it was not regarded as having credible evidential opportunities."

He added: "That said, the PSNI understands why Mr Larmour has made this request and is amenable to consider whether there is an avenue to bring this weapon back to the UK and return it to the MoD. PSNI will also study the contents of Mr Larmour's book. As in all cases, any new credible evidence will be pursued."

Last night the families of two more IRA victims killed by guns not retained by police said they were angry at how their fathers' murders had been treated.

Kathryn Johnston, the daughter of RUC Constable Harry Beckett, who is believed to have been shot dead with Corporal Wood's Browning pistol in 1990, said she was "devastated" to hear the weapon that killed her father had not been kept in the safe custody of police in Northern Ireland.

"It is like using a knife to stab someone and then cleaning it and using it for dinner," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

Marcus Babington, whose father James Henry Babington was believed killed in 1989 by the gun taken from Corporal Howes, accused the police of letting his family down.

The gun was returned to the MoD before anyone was brought to justice.

"Why, if my father's murder is still unsolved, did the Chief Constable see fit to give the weapon back to its owners?" he asked. "We are still waiting for justice."

  • They Killed The Ice Cream Man is published by Colourprint, £9.99

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