Judge urges full disclosure on gun
Vital information about the killing of pensioner Roseann Mallon is only being drip fed to her inquest, a coroner's court has heard.
Accusing the police and Historical Enquiries Team of procrastination, High Court Judge Mr Justice Weir slammed a delay in the disclosure of a report linking the murder weapon to at least six other shootings.
Demanding a detailed report on the gun's history and an explanation for the hold-up Judge Weir said: "I want the whole story and I want it now."
The Czech-bought assault rifle has been forensically linked to the UVF murders of Charles and Theresa Fox at The Moy, Co Armagh 1992 as well as the murders of John Quinn, Dwayne O'Donnell, Malcolm Nugent and Tommy Armstrong outside a bar in Cappagh, east Tyrone in 19991.
But Ms Mallon's inquest was only made aware of the link after member of the HET made an informal telephone call to the Coroner's Service a day after it started four weeks ago, the court was told.
The Historical Enquiries Team has been aware of the link since August, it was claimed.
Describing the situation as wholly unsatisfactory Judge Weir added: "It is hard to escape the thought that we are being fed very little bits of information and have been on a repeated basis."
Rosann Mallon, 76, was gunned down as she watched television at her sister-in-law's home in Dungannon, Co Tyrone on May 8, 1994.
She was unable to escape when two Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gunmen indiscriminately sprayed the bungalow at Cullenrammer Road with bullets and died almost instantly.
The UVF said its mid Ulster unit had been responsible and was targeting two of the spinster's nephews, Christopher and Martin Mallon who were involved with the republican movement. Martin Mallon lived over a mile away and Christopher, whose home was attacked, was not in at the time.
The inquest is also looking at claims the security forces colluded with the loyalist killers after Army spying equipment was found in a field overlooking the Mallon house and adjacent engineering works.
Military and police witnesses claimed the camera was incapable of filming at night or in poor weather and was not recording when Ms Mallon was shot just before midnight.
Judge Weir said he wanted a "start-to-finish" document on the rifle with his office by next Thursday at noon.
He said it should include details on the rifle's history as well as information on the Weapons and Explosives Research Centre (Werc) where it was examined in 1994. The judge has also asked for information about relationship between Werc and the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory and for the qualifications of the scientists who looked at the gun.
If dissatisfied, Judge Weir, said he would summon a representative from the HET to provide an explanation in open court.
"This lady died almost 20 years ago and we are now being told there are traces on this weapon," he said.
"I think we need to know. There are probably a number of members of the public that would like to know what other murders we are talking about apart from those we have mentioned.
"I hope now that genuine efforts will be made to bring us up to speed on what exactly is going on, what has gone wrong and what is the case."
Barry Macdonald QC, representing the Mallon family said he believed the HET had been aware of the weapon's history since July of this year.
Ms Mallon's nephew Martin was joined in the public gallery by relatives of the Fox couple and those killed at Cappagh.
Afterwards Mr Mallon said they shared the Coroner's frustrations.
He said: "I think the Coroner has said exactly what we, as a family, feel. We thought this inquest would have been done and dusted in a couple of weeks. We have been waiting almost 20 years - my mother is an elderly woman, I have sisters and it is very difficult for them.
"We were under the illusion that everything would be brought to the table for the inquest and that it would be dealt with.
"It just beggars belief that in this day and age we are still waiting for the truth. We just cannot believe that it took for a police man in England to telephone the court and tell them what was happening. It is hard for the family to understand what is going on given that it's hard for the Coroner.
"The family just want to know the truth."
Representatives from the campaign group Relatives for Justice (RFJ) which has supporting the Mallon family throughout the inquest process were also in the public gallery.
Mark Thompson from RFJ said they expected to be in touch with other families in light of the court revelations.
The case has been adjourned for a further review next Friday.