Roseann Mallon murder: Inquest shock as gun used by loyalists to kill pensioner linked with six other killings
The gun used to shoot pensioner Roseann Mallon almost 20 years ago has been linked to at least six other murders, a Coroner's Court has heard.
The Czech-manufactured assault rifle was used to kill a couple in The Moy, Co Tyrone, in 1992 and four other men in Cappagh, Co Tyrone, in 1991, new ballistics tests have confirmed.
The long-delayed inquest, now in its fourth week, could now face even further hold-ups while the police review the evidence.
Barry Macdonald QC, acting for the Mallon family, said: "This is a surprising and disturbing state of affairs."
The inquest has been told the AK47-type gun used in the attack was part of a consignment and was the weapon of choice for loyalist paramilitaries during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In the wake of the shooting, forensic tests on spent bullet cases recovered from the scene and a high velocity rifle found nearby concluded the gun was not involved in any previous attacks.
But a new investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team – a specialist unit set up to re-examine Troubles-related cold cases – has linked the VZ-58 rifle to the UVF killings of Charles and Theresa Fox at The Moy in 1992, as well as the murders of John Quinn, Dwayne O'Donnell, Malcolm Nugent and Tommy Armstrong outside a bar in Cappagh in 1991.
It was microscopically matched to nine spent bullet cases recovered from the Fox's murder scene and 14 casings from Cappagh, the court heard.
Dennis Rooney, barrister for the PSNI and Ministry of Defence, said: "There was evidence that the cartridges found at the murder of Charles and Theresa Fox and also the murders of the four individuals at Cappagh in 1991 can be linked directly to the weapon used in the murder of Mrs Mallon."
The court was told that the HET has known about the link since last month.
The inquest was scheduled to conclude today but High Court judge Mr Justice Weir said it was now unlikely.
The case is one of 29 controversial Troubles-related inquests and has been waiting almost two decades for a full hearing.
Barrister for the Coroner's Service Sean Doran said they would be demanding an explanation from the HET about what prompted its latest investigation.
He said: "It raises broader questions about disclosure by the HET and PSNI to the Coroner's Service."
The hearing has been adjourned until Thursday.
Ms Mallon (76) was shot dead as she watched television at a house in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, on May 8, 1994. The UVF claimed its mid Ulster brigade was responsible and had been targeting two of the spinster's nephews, Christopher and Martin Mallon, who were involved in the republican movement. No one has ever been convicted in connection with her murder, although loyalist Billy Wright and two others were arrested and questioned.