Roseann Mallon murder: Army had house where pensioner was gunned down by UVF killers under hi-tech surveillance, inquest hears
Published 05/11/2013 | 03:00
A 76-year-old pensioner was brutally gunned down at a remote country house near Dungannon by UVF terrorists as she tried to flee the hail of bullets, an inquest has heard.
Roseann Mallon was hit multiple times in the back and limbs when loyalist gunmen opened fire on a house belonging to her sister-in-law in May 1994.
Miss Mallon, who was staying with her sister-in-law Bridget Mallon because she was afraid of being robbed, died almost instantly when bullets hit her heart, as well as her lungs and intestines, the court heard.
Deputy State Pathologist Dr John Press, in a statement read to the court, said: "The combined effect of these injuries would have been rapid death."
The inquest into Ms Mallon's murder comes 19 years after her death and is being heard by High Court Judge Mr Justice Weir at Laganside Courts in Belfast.
The case is one of 29 legacy inquests from the Troubles.
Despite a number of men being arrested at the time, including notorious killer Billy Wright, no one has ever been charged with Ms Mallon's murder.
The UVF claimed that its mid-Ulster brigade carried out the attack in an attempt to target relations of Ms Mallon, who had ties to the IRA, namely Ms Mallon's nephews Martin and Christopher Mallon, who served jail sentences for republican activities.
The inquest heard how RUC reserve constable Stephen George, who is expected to give evidence tomorrow, found the murder weapon in a hedge.
Forensic tests on the Czech-made rifle revealed it was the weapon used to murder Ms Mallon.
Two months after the brutal shooting, Army surveillance equipment, including a hidden camera, was found in a field overlooking the house.
At the time of the murder there were claims of security force collusion in the killing, but this was not mentioned at the inquest.
It is believed that the unmanned camera transmitted footage to soldiers stationed in a nearby wood, the court was told.
Ms Mallon's nephew and godson Martin Mallon told the court he had the equipment tested by a professional cameraman, and was told it had been fitted with a night-sight and was capable of filming close-ups of his mother's house and an adjacent engineering workshop owned by Mr Mallon.
Mr Mallon also revealed he had seen a green car close to his mother's house earlier in the evening and has always maintained that the camera could have recorded the identity of the driver.
The inquest was told that in the hours after the shooting on May 8, 1994, Wright and two others known only as 'suspect four' and 'suspect six' were stopped in a car 15 or 20 miles away from the scene.
They were taken to Gough Barracks in Armagh and quizzed, but were released without charge several days later.
Three other men who were travelling in a Ford Sierra car were also arrested after police saw the occupants hurl items, including masks and gloves, onto the road, before two of the men ran into a wood.
None were ever charged.
The inquest will hear evidence from soldiers involved in surveillance operations at Bridget Mallon's home and on the engineering workshop used by her two sons.
Ongoing battle for crucial camera evidence
Roseann Mallon's murder took place in an area which was infamous for many of the most brutal killings of the Troubles.
In the 1970s, the area of Dungannon, Lurgan and Armagh City became known as the 'Murder Triangle' as sectarian terrorists claimed dozens of victims.
In 2002, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the hidden camera which may have filmed the murder was placed there by the Army to monitor republican activity in the area.
We revealed how undercover soldiers in the area were allegedly told to "hold back" when they reported the UVF shooting.
Our investigations found that logbooks used by the soldiers who operated the secret cameras, which were submitted to the preliminary inquest hearing in 2002, had large sections blacked out.
And eight years after the killing, police had not submitted papers to the coroner on the secret Army stakeout near where Ms Mallon was shot.
It also later emerged that police had not told the coroner about the soldiers or their statements describing the UVF attack.
In 2002, police were once again criticised as to why they had not provided Coroner Roger McLernon with statements from soldiers who were on the scene when the murder took place.
The law requires police to hand all documents relating to a case over to the coroner.
Shortly after the murder, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that two of Ms Mallon's nephews had been jailed for republican terrorist offences.
However, at the time of the murder they had severed all links with the IRA.
We also revealed how relatives of Ms Mallon faced the prospect of having a gagging order enforced upon them in 2003 in an attempt to prevent more information about her death coming into the public domain.
The case has dragged on through the courts for more than 19 years since Ms Mallon's death in 1994.