RUC man's killer Seamus Kearney to walk free after just two years in prison
Convicted terrorist Seamus Kearney, who was jailed for life for the 1981 murder of RUC officer John Proctor, is set to walk free from jail next week after serving just two years.
Kearney was handed a minimum 20-year prison sentence in December 2013 for the killing of Mr Proctor, who was shot dead minutes after visiting his newborn son in hospital.
But under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, he is to be released early next week, sparking a furious backlash over "an unjust system".
"Justice has been trampled in the dust," said the TUV's Jim Allister.
"Coming as it does just days after the Fresh Start deal, this is a reminder that when it comes to victims, it's a case of the same old story.
"Again there is special treatment for terrorists while victims are supposed to just accept it for the sake of the process. What a contrast with the Bloody Sunday soldiers who, if convicted, would serve their full sentence."
UUP MP Tom Elliott also hit out at the move, saying that Kearney's release was "very frustrating" for Mr Proctor's family.
"I suppose two years was better than nothing, but it just isn't long enough for such a brutal crime.
"And, of course, Kearney has been out on day release for some time now, so it's less than two years served.
"It must be very difficult for Mr Proctor's family, especially as they live in the same area as Kearney."
DUP MLA Jonathan Craig said that the release was a "hard pill to swallow" for the RUC reserve constable's family.
"This isn't justice," the Policing Board man added. "The Good Friday Agreement left us with an unjust system and now we are stuck with it. I think it is just dreadful for the Proctor family."
Earlier this month, Mr Proctor's widow, June McMullin, failed in a legal bid to stop the granting of Kearney's temporary release.
From March this year, Kearney has been allowed out of jail for periods of up to 48 hours as part of a pre-release scheme.
On one occasion, Mrs McMullin even spotted Kearney while she was out driving.
Mr Proctor was just 25 when he was murdered in the grounds of Magherafelt hospital in County Londonderry after visiting his newborn son in September 1981.
Kearney (59), of Gorteade Road, Maghera, was arrested and charged in connection with the murder after a review by the Historical Enquiries Team.
Upon conviction, Crown Court Judge David McFarland described Mr Proctor's murder as "one of the most appalling" committed during the Troubles.
"That a man can be targeted when he is attending a hospital to visit his wife and newly born son continues to appal all right-minded members of society," the judge added.