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Son of Charles and Theresa Fox killed by UVF claims probe was flawed

By Alan Erwin

Published 03/12/2015

Shot dead: Theresa Fox
Shot dead: Theresa Fox

A man who claims loyalist gunmen colluded with security forces to murder his parents has been let down by a dysfunctional and under-funded state system for investigating the killings, the High Court has heard.

Anthony Fox is taking legal action against the UK Government, Stormont's Department of Justice, the PSNI and the Coroner's Service for allegedly failing to oversee an effective probe.

His parents, Catholic couple Charles and Theresa Fox, aged 63 and 53, were shot dead by an Ulster Volunteer Force gang at their home near Moy, Co Tyrone in September 1992.

The rifle used in their killings has been linked to at least eight other assassinations in the Mid Ulster area.

Counsel for Mr Fox, Hugh Southey QC, told the court: "This is a root and branch challenge to the way we would argue the system for investigating legacy deaths is failing victims."

He claimed that the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Justice have provided inadequate resources to ensure obligations under human rights law to investigate deaths in a prompt, independent and effective manner are met.

Probes which were carried out by the PSNI's Historical Enquiries Team lacked sufficient independence and have been undermined by a reliance on out of date ballistic evidence that has now been discredited, according to Mr Fox's lawyers.

Police at the time wrongly identified the weapon used in his parents' killings.

The misidentification of the Czech-manufactured rifle only emerged in 2013, during the inquest of another suspected victim of the same Mid Ulster UVF gang.

Pensioner Roseann Mallon (76) was shot dead as she watched television at a house near Dungannon, Co Tyrone, in May 1994.

The inquest into her murder heard the gun was part of a consignment brought to Northern Ireland by British army agent Brian Nelson.

Mr Southey told the court his client's family have always believed there was state collusion in the killings.

He said no attempt was made in the latest HET report to explain the weapon misidentification.

Rejecting points made about the workload facing the authorities under challenge, the barrister insisted that proper funding has not been provided.

"The elephant in the room here ... is clearly that the system just does not have the resources," he added.

Seeking leave to apply for a judicial review, Mr Southey contended: "The appropriate relief is for the court to record the fact that the system is dysfunctional."

Counsel for the coroner, Sean Doran, argued that it was wrong to bring a case against his client for alleged structural defects and under-funding of controversial deaths.

He insisted the issues under challenge are outside the coroner's responsibility.

Following extensive legal arguments, Mr Justice Maguire reserved judgment on the case.

He said: "I will provide a decision as speedily as I can."

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