Belfast Telegraph

Shotgun residue in victim's car

Shotgun residue was discovered in the car of a father of five abducted and murdered by republican paramilitaries at the height of the Troubles, an inquest has heard.

Charlie Armstrong, one of the so-called Disappeared, suffered an unnatural and violent death after he went missing on his way to Mass on August 16, 1981, the hearing was told.

Dublin City Coroner's Court heard the body of the 54-year-old, from Rathview Park, Crossmaglen, south Armagh, was weighed down with stones when it was discovered in a bog near Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, on July 29, 2010.

His family believe he was abducted and murdered by the IRA but no organisation has claimed responsibility for the killing

Geoff Knupfer, head of the investigation team with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains, revealed Mr Armstrong's body had been too badly decomposed to determine an exact cause of death.

Shotgun residue was found in the front passenger seat and boot of Mr Armstrong's car, located in Dundalk the day after he vanished.

Professor Marie Cassidy, the Republic's state pathologist, said the cause of death could not be determined but that his skull had been badly damaged. "The skull was very badly damaged which may suggest there had been some injuries, but I can't prove it," she added.

Mr Armstrong's now elderly widow, Kathleen Armstrong, was supported in the courtroom by her five children and extended family.

She said 29 years after his disappearance she was called to identify a number of personal items recovered from the bog, which included her late husband's dentures, a waistcoat he wore every Sunday, size seven brown slip-on shoes, socks and a St Brigid's badge.

A jury recorded a verdict of death by unlawful killing and found Mr Armstrong suffered an unnatural and violent death at the hands of a paramilitary organisation by persons unknown.

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