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Police Ombudsman investigation will prove my son was shot to protect IRA spy, claims father

By Deborah McAleese

Published 16/04/2015

Freddy Scappaticci
Freddy Scappaticci

The father of an IRA murder victim said he believes a probe by the Police Ombudsman will reveal that his son was killed to protect double agent Freddie Scappaticci.

A "thematic" investigation has been launched by the police watchdog into whether the security forces could have prevented the IRA murders of Joe Mulhern and a number of other alleged informers.

Joe was just 23 when his body was found near the Tyrone border at Castlederg in 1993. He had been interrogated by the IRA, accused of passing information to Special Branch, then shot dead.

His father Frank Mulhern said he has been campaigning for 17 years for justice for his son and is hopeful that the Police Ombudsman investigation will finally reveal the truth.

"Joe's murder could have very easily been stopped. Joe was killed to protect Freddie Scappaticci," said Mr Mulhern.

Scappaticci, codenamed 'Stakeknife', was a member of the IRA's feared internal security team He fled Northern Ireland in 2003 when he was unmasked as a double agent. He has always denied working for British military intelligence and has always denied being Stakeknife.

"Myself and a lot of others will not give up until the truth about these murders comes out. We just want justice," Mr Mulhern added.

It is thought that up to 20 murders, which took place during the 1980s and 1990s, are being investigated by the Police Ombudsman's Office, following claims that the attacks could have been stopped by the security forces.

Victims' families believe they were killed to protect the identity of security force agents in the IRA.

Solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, is dealing with 11 cases that have been included in the ombudsman's investigation, nine of which involve victims who were murdered by the IRA due to claims they were informers.

The office of the Police Ombudsman has written to him, confirming that a "thematic approach" inquiry is under way.

"We welcome this initiative to undertake thematic investigations into multiple murders, which we have long been advocating for," Mr Winters said.

He added: "The initiative is clearly right in terms of the process of delivering truth to victims and in terms of the operation of the office and exposing collusion as a state practice during the conflict responsible for deaths which could have been prevented."

The Police Ombudsman's Office said its inquiry began more than a year ago.

A spokesman said the investigation arose from "a number of separate complaints made by members of the public and from matters referred to it by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)".

"They included allegations that some murders carried out during this period could have been prevented and that a number of people were subsequently protected from investigation and prosecution," the spokesman added.

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