Belfast Telegraph

Michael Tighe shooting: RUC and MI5 in shoot-to-kill probe after tape of teen death 'sabotaged'

By Chris Kilpatrick

Former Special Branch and MI5 officers are to be investigated by police after allegations key surveillance evidence during the so-called shoot-to-kill death of a teenager was destroyed.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, requested the PSNI Chief Constable and Police Ombudsman launch full investigations into the actions of the former RUC and security service members in relation to alleged withholding, concealing and destroying audio tapes of the incident more than 30 years ago.

It relates to the shooting dead of Michael Tighe (17) and wounding of Martin McCauley (19) by members of the RUC at a hay shed in Lurgan in November 1982. The subsequent conviction of Mr McCauley for possession of firearms was quashed by the Court of Appeal last September after the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) considered the tampering of evidence.

It is understood three former MI5 members and the deputy head of the RUC's Special Branch at the time are set to be investigated.

Those enquiries will be carried out by an outside police force and the Police Ombudsman.

The RUC was previously found to have destroyed a surveillance tape within 24 hours of the shootings.

The security services made a copy which they held onto until it was destroyed in 1985.

The investigation will focus on why its existence was not disclosed to prosecutors or the court at the time of Mr McCauley's trial.

It was also not revealed to John Stalker and Colin Sampson who examined the incident when compiling a report into three so-called shoot-to-kill incidents during the Troubles.

Mr McGrory said: "The actions of police and security service personnel in relation to the concealment and destruction of potential evidence requires further investigation as does the identification of all those involved in such actions.

"The test for prosecution will be applied in relation to any evidence uncovered through the course of the investigation."

Chief Constable George Hamilton has asked Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to appoint an independent UK police force to investigate the allegations against former members of MI5.

In a statement, the PSNI said: "The team will work under the direction of, and will report directly to, the Chief Constable who will oversee the investigation and report to the Director of Public Prosecutions."

Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire will investigate allegations of misconduct by former members of the RUC.

Last year, Mr McGrory determined that Mr McCauley's appeal against the conviction should not be resisted and invited the Court of Appeal to exercise its discretion to quash the conviction on the basis that to do otherwise would undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system.

The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction in September, stating in its written judgment that it considered that the actions of police and the security services in relation to the case amounted "cumulatively to grave misconduct".

Michael Tighe shooting: The case which sparked one of the most notorious allegations of a cover-up in history of Troubles  

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph