Belfast Telegraph

New mum heard fatal shots after spouse left maternity ward

By Chris Kilpatrick

His family's fight for justice lasted more than three decades.

The brutal slaying of RUC reservist John Proctor in September 1981 sent shockwaves throughout a Troubles-hardened Northern Ireland.

Just days after the birth of his son, John (25) had been visiting June - his wife of four years - at the maternity wing of the Mid Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt.

John was pleased to get staying with his family for longer than was usually allowed, remarking to another new father that he was surprised they hadn't been chased out earlier "because Sister Woods had been on duty".

He left the hospital at around 8.50pm.

June vividly remembers walking out of the ward with her husband and waiting at a window to exchange a final farewell. She lingered there in the hope of seeing him drive past on the way home.

Instead, she heard the terrifying sound of gunshots ring out.

The IRA would later admit responsibility for the murder.

John had been a reserve RUC officer for just 18 months when he was killed.

Previously he had served with the Ulster Defence Regiment.

Earlier on the day of his murder John had served as a pallbearer at the funeral of his friend Alan Clarke, a UDR soldier who had been shot dead by the IRA in Maghera two days previously.

It took 32 years, but John's family finally saw one of his killers, Seamus Kearney, brought to justice in 2013.

Kearney of Gorteade Road in Maghera, was handed a minimum 20-year prison sentence in December 2013 for murdering John.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement Kearney is expected to serve just two years of his sentence behind bars, leaving prison this November.

John's son Johnnie told of his heartache at being so cruelly robbed of a dad.

"I never got to meet my father," he said.

"It's so sad that I never got to meet the man that brought me into the world."

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