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'Public inquiry may be needed' into Charlie and Tess Fox murders

Published 21/01/2016

During a review of the Fox killings in Belfast, Mr Corrigan said the coroner's court must look into the wider circumstances and linked cases
During a review of the Fox killings in Belfast, Mr Corrigan said the coroner's court must look into the wider circumstances and linked cases

A lawyer for the family of a couple gunned down by loyalists in Mid Ulster has claimed a public inquiry may be necessary to investigate alleged state collusion.

Charlie and Tess Fox were shot dead at their home in Moy, Co Tyrone, in September 1992. Members of their family believe soldiers and armed police were near the family home in the period before the murders.

A family solicitor said they were convinced state collusion was involved.

Peter Corrigan said: "It is not a fanciful belief, it is based on circumstances and evidence and Historical Enquiry Team reports."

A senior judge reviewing all legacy inquests has repeatedly said it is up to the Government to fund investigations into cases which cannot be dealt with by the inquest system.

During a review of the Fox killings in Belfast, Mr Corrigan said the coroner's court must look into the wider circumstances and linked cases, connected by the terrorist organisation and people involved and the area where the killings happened.

"This inquest has the capacity to do it by widening the scope in relation to the inquests and widening the scope in relation to the personnel and ballistics."

He said the case was linked to the murder of Co Tyrone pensioner Roseann Mallon because the same murder weapon was used.

Lord Justice Weir is reviewing all legacy inquests to determine when they can be held or if the coroner's system is not capable of dealing with some of them.

Mr Corrigan added: "If the court do determine that an inquest is not appropriate we would seek a declaration that the Mid Ulster murders can only be dealt with by a public inquiry."

The gunmen who killed the Fox family smashed their way into the house, having cut the phone lines. The bodies of Mr and Mrs Fox were discovered the next morning by their daughter who had become concerned at not having heard from them, the hearing was told.

Because there were criminal proceedings no inquest was held.

A lawyer said disclosure of documents had held up progress in having the matter dealt with.

Lord Justice Weir said if the matter became one for a public inquiry it could be held at some distant point in the future, if at all.

"It does rather sound as though this case, if it were to proceed in this linked way, might be well down the list for dealing with, if indeed it can be dealt with under the coronial system."

The Fox's daughter Bernadette McKearney said: "We all believe that there was collusion between the police force and loyalist paramilitaries.

"For the last 16 years this has been going on and we have been hindered because of the police and state services.

"In any other country police are there to help people with their inquests but in Northern Ireland, no.

"We are no further on and the way the judge spoke this morning I may not be around to see the end of this."

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