The father of a teenager brutally murdered by loyalist paramilitaries more than 20 years ago is taking legal action over alleged delays in completing a watchdog report on his complaint about the police investigation.
Paul McIlwaine’s attempt to judicially review the Police Ombudsman has been listed for hearing at the High Court in Belfast later this month.
His 18-year-old son, David McIlwaine, was beaten and stabbed to death along with Andrew Robb, 19, in February 2000.
The victims’ mutilated bodies were found on an isolated country road near Tandragee, Co Armagh.
Members of the Mid-Ulster UVF are believed to have carried out the killings as part of a feud with the rival LVF.
Even though neither teenager was a member of any paramilitary organisation, Mr Robb had allegedly made derogatory remarks about UVF commander Richard Jameson after he was shot dead weeks earlier.
In 2009 Stephen Leslie Brown, 41, was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for the murders, described by the trial judge as ranking among the most gruesome committed in Northern Ireland.
Another member of the group identified as being involved in the killings, Noel Dillon, committed suicide before the conclusion of criminal proceedings.
A third associate, Mark Burcombe, admitted a lesser charge and provided evidence against Brown.
Despite the convictions, persistent claims have been made that a Special Branch agent was involved in the murders and protected from prosecution.
In 2003 Mr McIlwaine lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman about alleged failings in the police investigation into his son’s killing.
His lawyers claim that he was told in 2005 and again in 2010 that a report was nearing completion.
But according to court papers Mr McIlwaine has still not been informed of any outcome reached by the watchdog.
He is now seeking a declaration that the Ombudsman has acted unlawfully and breached a statutory duty by failing to conclude investigations into the complaint within a reasonable time.
Following today’s preliminary court hearing a solicitor representing Mr McIlwaine acknowledged the Police Ombudsman is facing problems with resources attributed to under-funding.
Gary Duffy of KRW Law said outside court: “Her very important work in exposing police investigative failings is undermined not just through systemic budget slashing but also through repetitive challenges to her findings of collusion.
“Having said that, 20 years is simply far too long to wait for the outcome of a complaint investigation of this nature.
“It is retraumatizing and our client really needs to know why it’s taking this length of time to complete.”