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Murder of soldier Gary Barlow marooned in Belfast's Divis flats after 1973 raid may be reviewed by police

By Deborah McAleese

Published 12/03/2016

Private Gary Barlow
Private Gary Barlow
Mike Harmson serving here in the 1980s

The PSNI has been asked to review the murder of a 19-year-old soldier killed by the IRA after he became separated from his patrol in west Belfast 43 years ago.

Private Gary Barlow, who was serving in the lower Falls in March 1973, was part of a patrol dispatched to search Divis flats.

When the operation finished the patrol mistakenly left their teenage colleague behind and a gang of women cornered him in an alleyway before a Provo gunman arrived and shot him dead.

Nobody has ever been charged with Private Barlow's murder.

A lobby group of Army veterans who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles have asked that the Chief Constable order a fresh investigation into the atrocity.

The case was previously reviewed by the Historical Enquiries Team, but it did not result in any criminal charges.

Former soldier and retired PSNI detective Mike Harmson, a member of the Veterans Lobbying Group, said Private Barlow was "yet another forgotten military victim of the Troubles" who "deserves justice and a proper investigation" into his murder.

"Given the fact that such a large number of witnesses were present at the time, I feel that this case should be reinvestigated," claimed Mr Harmson.

"We should not forget the sacrifices of the brave men and women of the military and police who gave their lives in the defence of their country.

"In November of last year the PSNI's legacy investigations branch placed a national radio appeal seeking witnesses who were involved in alleged unauthorised shootings by military undercover units to come forward.

"Doesn't Private Barlow's murder warrant the same type of appeal, given that the witnesses and murderers are no doubt still residing within the local area?"

Mr Harmson has contacted Chief Constable George Hamilton and Justice Minister David Ford to request the reopening of the 43-year-old case.

His request has been forwarded by Mr Hamilton to Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr, head of the PSNI's crime operations department, to consider.

In 2010 Private Barlow's parents Rona and Jack received the Elizabeth Cross, the decoration which recognises service personnel killed in operations.

He was just 17 when he joined the Army and was only three months away from completing his second tour of duty here with the Queen's Lancashire Regiment when he was killed.

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