Belfast Telegraph

Man 'had postman murder info'

A man purporting to have information about the murder of a Catholic postman more than 10 years ago was found dead at the bottom of a Belfast cliff, a coroner's court has heard.

Stephen McCullough's body was discovered at the foot of Cavehill in 2002 -- shortly after he was released from police custody.

The circumstances of his death were raised during a preliminary hearing touching the killing of Catholic postman Daniel McColgan in January of the same year.

Barrister Andrew Moriarty, representing the McColgan family, claimed material which had been disclosed for use at a forthcoming inquest, suggested 39-year-old Mr McCullough may have had information about the unsolved loyalist shooting.

He said: "We are armed with material which is suggestive that Mr McCullough was the type of person who may have had the information that he was purporting to have.

"There is a suggestion that he might have been killed."

However, senior coroner John Leckey said there was no evidence of foul play in Mr McCullough's death.

He told the court: "I have concerns about raising such a matter without a shred of evidence."

The coroner said an investigation by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman had also failed to find anything untoward and the family had not asked for an inquest.

Mr Leckey added: "There was clear evidence that Mr McCullough's death was suicide. No concerns were raised with me by the family. If there had been, an inquest would have been held.

"The Police Ombudsman uncovered nothing of a sinister nature."

Daniel McColgan, 20, from the Longlands estate in Newtownabbey was shot dead by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) as he arrived for work at a postal sorting office in the loyalist Rathcoole estate.

Nobody has been convicted of the killing which was initially claimed by the Red Hand Commando - a cover name for the UDA.

A long-awaited inquest into his death is due to start next week.

Refusing a request to expand the witness list to include Mr McCullough's widow Karen; the man who found his body and two detectives who investigated his death, the coroner said any evidence of foul play should be raised with the Ombudsman's office.

Mr Leckey said: "If there is any evidence that relates Mr McCullough met his death by sinister means it must be brought to the attention of the Police Ombudsman."

Meanwhile, Mark Robinson, barrister for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said expanding the witness list at such a late stage could derail the progress of the case.

He said: "These matters have been raised six days before the inquest is to commence -- three working days before the inquest is to open.

"I have grave concerns about any derailment of that process."

An inquest for Daniel McColgan is scheduled to start next Monday.

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