Belfast Telegraph

Police accused over probe into IRA lynch mob murder of Army corporals David Howes and Derek Wood in Belfast

By Deborah McAleese

The PSNI has been accused of failing to act on new information relating to the horrific murders of two British Army corporals during an IRA funeral.

It has been claimed that police were contacted three months ago by a former soldier who said he may have fresh details about the public slayings of corporals David Howes and Derek Wood on March 19, 1988, in Belfast.

However, it has been alleged that officers failed to follow up with the witness, who has since lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that the soldier claims to have information that might shed light on why there was no police or military intervention during the attack, which was recorded by an army surveillance helicopter.

There is no suggestion in his complaint to the Police Ombudsman that there was any wrongdoing by the security services during the killings.

Corporals Wood and Howes were murdered by an IRA lynch mob when they mistakenly drove into a republican funeral.

Initially mistaken for loyalist terrorists and trapped in their car, they were dragged out in front of the world's Press and viciously beaten in nearby Casement Park. Minutes later, they were executed as suspected SAS members.

Two men, Alex Murphy and Harry Maguire, were found guilty of the murders of the corporals.

More than a quarter of a century on from the murders, questions still remain over why, with the police and military watching, the soldiers could not have been saved.

It is understood that the former soldier who lodged the complaint with the Police Ombudsman contacted PSNI detectives last year and told them he believed he had some information about the killings that may help shed some light on what happened that day.

However, it has been claimed that three months after volunteering to pass over the information, nobody from the PSNI has contacted him for a statement.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman's office confirmed that a complaint had been received "that the PSNI have failed to act on recent information given to them concerning the murder of two soldiers during (the late 1980s)."

The spokesman said the complaint was "being assessed."

Policing Board member Jonathan Craig said the revelations raise concerns "over how well historical investigations are being dealt with by the PSNI".

"My gut instinct is that they are probably not being dealt with in the way they should be," the DUP MLA added. "If someone comes along with what could be fresh information, surely that should be forwarded to the relevant department and that potential witness contacted for a statement.

"I think it is appropriate that the Police Ombudsman investigates why this was allegedly not dealt with, and I hope he gets to the root of what is going on with issues like this."

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