Belfast Telegraph

Two PSNI officers face sanctions over gun find probe

By Annamay McNally

Disciplinary sanctions against two police officers involved in the investigation into the discovery of a gun and ammunition under the floorboards of a house in Co Tyrone have been recommended by the Police Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman's office formally concluded its investigation into the matter and at the beginning of this week communicated the findings to the family who lodged the complaint.

The complaint was submitted by family members of Charles and Teresa Fox, who were murdered in their home near Moy by the UVF in September 1992.

The Fox family raised concerns after police denied any guns or ammunition had been discovered at a house undergoing renovation in Tamnamore in June last year.

But following a number of enquiries from the media, the PSNI subsequently confirmed the gun had been "handed in to police on June 21, 2016".

The PSNI said at that time the weapon was "in a very poor condition" and would be expedited for examination to establish if it could be linked to any historical incidents.

In their complaint to the Ombudsman, the Fox family said they were aware that a "leading loyalist" had lived close to Tamnamore and that the car used in their parents' murder had been found burnt out close to the area.

The Police Ombudsman's communication to the complainant, which has been seen by this newspaper, reveals that police initially became aware of the find on June 21 last year when two males attended the local PSNI station to report that a gun and ammunition had been found at the property.

The items had been found inside a plastic bag by a man carrying out building work.

The Police Ombudsman's report concluded by stating that "appropriate disciplinary sanctions" had been recommended against the officers concerned.

In a statement, the Fox family said: "Twenty-five years after the murder of our parents we are still dealing with at best, police incompetence, and at worst another cover-up.

"We find it incredulous that any serving police officer would not be aware of sectarian murders in the mid Ulster area in the 1990s.

"This is the second time we have been deceived by the police about a weapons find and we can only wonder what they have to hide.

"We are calling for a criminal investigation into Officer 1, his destruction of potentially vital evidence, and his blatant attempt to mislead the Ombudsman must be investigated."

The PSNI said: "The recommendations made in the Police Ombudsman's report have been actioned by PSNI."

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