Belfast Telegraph

New evidence stalls watchdog report on murder of RUC man John Larmour in Belfast

By Suzanne Breen

Detectives have given potentially vital new evidence to the Police Ombudsman about the murder of an RUC officer shot dead by IRA gunmen in a Belfast ice cream parlour.

The Belfast Telegraph has been told that, on the basis of intelligence supplied by the police, the Ombudsman has secured new material on the killing of Constable John Larmour.

A gun used in the attack has also been retrieved from a German forensic science laboratory.

The Police Ombudsman's report into the officer's murder, which was due out imminently, has now been delayed.

Constable Larmour's son Gavin last night said that while he was pleased that fresh evidence was now with the Ombudsman, he was frustrated that the report had been delayed yet again.

His father was shot dead in Barnam's ice cream parlour on the Lisburn Road in October 1988. Gavin said: "While I wholeheartedly welcome any development in the case, and don't want a half-baked report by the Ombudsman, I'm increasingly frustrated at delay after delay in publishing it.

"They've been investigating my dad's murder for over a decade. Deadline after deadline has been broken.

"They're now saying that they can't publish the report until after the Assembly election because of a period of purdah. I have been patient, but it's becoming so frustrating after years of delays."

John Larmour was working in his brother's ice cream parlour when two IRA men entered the premises. One ordered two sliders.

As the off-duty police officer served him, the man pulled a gun and shot him. The other gunman fired at two customers in the shop. Constable Larmour died at the scene.

Gavin, who was just 13 years old at the time, believes the murder wasn't properly investigated in order to protect a high level informer who sat on the IRA's army council in the late 1990s and is a former commander of its Belfast brigade.

Gavin said: "On my birthday on Tuesday I turned 42 - the age my father was when the IRA killed him. It's a very emotional time for me, especially when I can see how my own family would be ripped apart if someone took my life.

"Nobody has ever been charged with dad's murder, but I have served a life sentence. I have come up against brick wall after brick wall when I've tried to uncover the truth."

Gavin suffered severe depression after the killing and developed psoriasis due to the trauma. "It's so bad that I need chemotherapy to control it," he said.

"Recently, it developed into psoriatic arthritis, which has resulted in me being medically retired. I really need answers on dad's murder for my peace of mind."

A spokesman for the Ombudsman's Office said: "We are currently finalising our public report into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Constable Larmour, with a view to publishing it after the Assembly election.

"In pre-election periods the office abides by convention and refrains from releasing significant public statements; however this has not had a bearing on the timing of this report."

Gavin tracked down the two weapons used in the attack. One was a Browning pistol the IRA had taken from Corporal Derek Wood in Andersonstown in March 1988. The weapon was being held in a forensic science laboratory in Baden Wurttemberg after Belgian police found it in woodland in 1990.

They had given the gun to the Germans, as it had been used in IRA operations in Germany.

Gavin said that officers from the PSNI's Legacy Investigation Branch and Police Ombudsman's Office had recently travelled to Germany to retrieve the gun.

However, after years of handling by others, DNA recovered from the weapon will likely be of limited evidential use.

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