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No payout for ex-UDR man acquitted of 1983 murder

By Michael McHugh

Published 15/03/2016

Colin Worton
Colin Worton

A former soldier acquitted of involvement in the murder of a Catholic man in Northern Ireland 27 years ago has exhausted all legal remedies, the Justice Minister has said.

Colin Worton from south Armagh spent two-and-a-half-years in custody after being charged in connection with the 1983 murder of Adrian Carroll.

He claimed police had obtained a confession from him under duress.

Just before the trial started the case against him fell apart and he walked free after a judge said he was excluding his statement of admission because it had been coerced from him by detectives who had exploited his vulnerability.

Mr Worton didn't get any compensation because he wasn't found guilty and could not therefore be deemed to have been wrongly convicted.

Minister David Ford said he sympathised with the ex-serviceman, whose brother Kenneth was a victim of the Kingsmills massacre in 1976.

"But he is in no different position from many another person that was charged and found not guilty," said Mr Ford. "He has, as far as I can see, exhausted all legal remedies."

Mr Ford did exonerate Mr Worton, a window cleaner, in a little-reported comment in the Assembly in 2011, but the former UDR man did not believe that is enough.

The Justice Minister told MLAs in June 2011 that Mr Worton was completely innocent and that the charge against him was erroneous and that there was no stain on his character.

Mr Worton, who spent 30 months in custody between 1983 and 1986, claimed officers threatened him with up to 20 years in prison unless he confessed to a role connected with the killing. He and four other ex-members of the UDR - known as the UDR Four - were charged in connection with Mr Carroll's murder in Armagh in November 1983.

His co-defendants were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Three - Noel Bell, Winston Allen and Jim Hagan - later had their convictions quashed on appeal after judges found interview notes had been altered.

The three men were given £500,000 each in compensation.

The fourth, Neil Latimer, was released under the Good Friday Agreement.

Newry and Armagh Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy raised the matter in the Assembly.

He said: "In very real terms it changed his life. It affected his career and it has damaged his reputation, all unjustly because he was never, ever convicted.

"The charges were withdrawn from him and yet he has paid a very high personal price in terms of his potential career and his personal life."

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