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Kingsmill atrocity widow, 93, urges conclusion of inquest

Published 29/06/2016

Mrs Lemmon's husband Joseph was among 10 textile factory workers murdered when their minibus was ambushed
Mrs Lemmon's husband Joseph was among 10 textile factory workers murdered when their minibus was ambushed

The 93-year-old widow of a man killed in the Kingsmill atrocity has made an impassioned plea to press on with a long-awaited inquest.

In a heartfelt letter to the coroner, bed-ridden Jane Lemmon said she wanted to see the "wicked" gunmen held to account before she died.

She said: "I would just like to emphasise that some of us don't have that long left on the Earth and I would certainly like to see this inquest over before I leave to be with the Lord.

"I know the fight for justice will continue... but I would just love to hear the names of those people who committed this terrible act.

"I'd very much like to see those responsible held accountable for what they have done."

Mrs Lemmon's husband Joseph was among 10 textile factory workers murdered when their minibus was ambushed near the Co Armagh village of Kingsmill on January 5 1976.

Those on board were asked their religion and the only Catholic was told to flee.

The gunmen, who were hidden in the hedges, ordered the rest to line up outside the van and then opened fire.

Details of the letter were read out by lawyer Neil Rafferty during a preliminary inquiry at Belfast's Laganside Court complex.

Mr Rafferty, who represents a number of the bereaved families, said "This brings into very, very sharp focus the reality that the people who have suffered most are the people who are asked to endure the delay, a delay not of their causing and not of their making.

"It beholds those who caused that delay to act speedily."

The inquest has been dogged by delay since police revealed they had matched a palm print found on the getaway vehicle- a week after the case opened.

While she accepted that police should be given time to investigate the significant new lead, Mrs Lemmon claimed it should not be "open ended" adding some families could not wait much longer.

Coroner Judge Brian Sherrard said he was mindful of the issues raised and indicated he would reply directly to the widow.

But he told the court: "My priority is to conduct an appropriate and proportionate investigation."

Meanwhile, it was also revealed that the PSNI plan to brief the Kingsmill families on the "history" of the palm print.

The presentation will first be made to the coroner, possibly on Thursday, the court heard.

Judge Sherrard said he would be seeking an explanation for the emergence of the palm print at such a late stage but would focus on where the development takes the inquest.

"My principal focus is where this goes, not where it has been," added Judge Sherrard.

He has also ordered police to provide monthly updates on the progress of their investigation.

The 10 who died at Kingsmill were John Bryans, Robert Chambers, Reginald Chapman, Walter Chapman, Robert Freeburn, Joseph Lemmon, John McConville, James McWhirter, Robert Samuel Walker and Kenneth Worton.

One man, Alan Black, survived, despite being shot 18 times.

No-one has ever been convicted over the massacre.

The inquest has been adjourned until September.

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From Belfast Telegraph