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Co Down man shot in his home in suspected loyalist attack in 2000 takes action against police for ‘investigation failures’


Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

A Co Down man shot at his home in a suspected loyalist paramilitary attack more than 20 years ago is taking High Court action against the police for allegedly never carrying out an effective investigation.

Peter Johnston claims a violation of human rights by an ongoing failure to properly probe what he believes was an attempt to murder him.

Amid suggestions that a state agent may have known about the attack, he has secured a date for his legal bid to judicially review the PSNI.

Mr Johnston was targeted in a random attack at his home in Newtownards in October 2000, according to his lawyers.

Four men wearing balaclavas entered the property, shooting him twice in the legs in front of his partner.

They also allegedly attempted to shoot him in the back, only for the gun to jam.

No-one has ever been charged in connection with the shooting.

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Mr Johnston claims initial RUC inquiries were shut down without any proper explanation or reasoning.

Since then the PSNI has failed to provide an effective investigation into the shooting, as required by the 1998 Human Rights Act, his lawyers contend.

Papers submitted as part of the challenge state: “The original RUC investigation in 2000 failed to ascertain the involvement or non-involvement of loyalist paramilitaries.

“Such a failure is inexplicable in the specific circumstances of the shooting of the applicant and given the presumed presence of state agents/informers in such organisations at the relevant time.”

Mr Johnston’s application for leave to seek a judicial review against the Chief Constable has now been listed for hearing in September.

Outside court his solicitor, Owen Beattie of KRW Law, said: “We contend that this case will have wider implications as to how police investigations have been conducted into serious crimes post 1998.

“We welcome the listing of this challenge and look forward to a hearing later this year”.

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