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Inquest into pensioner killing due to open after 16-year wait

An inquest into the death of Roseanne Mallon will finally get under way next year — some 16 years after the pensioner was brutally gunned down in her Co Tyrone home.

The hearing, which could last up to four weeks, is expected to open after the Easter break, a preliminary hearing in Belfast was told yesterday.

News of the significant step for Miss Mallon’s family came yesterday as Northern Ireland’s most senior Coroner John Leckey gave the Chief Constable seven weeks to hand over top secret reports on an alleged police shoot-to-kill policy during the Troubles, in a separate preliminary inquest hearing.

Mr Leckey issued the deadline in the face of ongoing police reluctance to disclose the never published Stalker and Sampson reports to assist his probe into the RUC killings of six men in late 1982.

Miss Mallon (76), from Cullenrammer Road near Dungannon, was shot dead by UVF gunmen while watching TV in May 1994.

The circumstances of her murder have also been highly controversial and to date the case has been the subject of 24 preliminary hearings.

Yesterday’s 20-minute hearing was told the PSNI had handed over bundles of documents in July, but there was doubt over whether all the evidence was at the court’s disposal.

Justice Reg Weir gave the respective legal teams six weeks to liaise with each other to establish whether they were satisfied that all necessary exhibits were available.

He asked whether the family wanted the case to be investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team before an inquest opened, however this was declined by the family’s legal representative, Fiona Doherty.

But speaking after the hearing, Miss Mallon’s nephew, Martin, said he was disappointed at the prospect of a further six-month delay.

“We were hoping to come here and be told that an inquest would start within two weeks,” he said. “Now we’re told that Easter 2010 is the likely date.

“It’s very frustrating. Roseanne was murdered in 1994 and all the documentation was supposed to be handed over after every preliminary hearing.

“We’re still here now, in 2009, with the judge trying to get the PSNI and MoD to clarify what they have and make sure that it is all handed over.”

Soldiers camped near the scene — who were guarding a secret Army surveillance camera, belived to be monitoring republicans, overlooking the scene of the murder — were ordered “not to react” as the killers escaped.

Mr Mallon wants the PSNI to supply film from the camera, but police have argued that the camera was off at the time of the killing, because it couldn't record at night.

It emerged that senior police decided not to tell detectives investigating the murder about the camera or the soldiers who witnessed the killing.

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