Belfast Telegraph

Failure to hold Raymond McCord Jr inquest 'breaches human rights', court hears

Raymond McCord with a portrait of his murdered son Raymond Jnr (Paul Faith/PA)
Raymond McCord with a portrait of his murdered son Raymond Jnr (Paul Faith/PA)

By Alan Erwin

The ongoing failure to hold an inquest into a "brutal" loyalist murder allegedly ordered by a police informant 22 years ago breaches human rights, the High Court has heard.

Counsel for the father of victim Raymond McCord Jr insisted a criminal investigation into the killing has now ground to a halt.

Citing a watchdog report which established Special Branch collusion with the Ulster Volunteer Force gang responsible, Martin O'Rourke QC contended that police showed "total contempt for the law".

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord Sr is taking legal action in a bid to secure an inquest into his son's death.

He wants a judge to declare the delay of more than two decades is unlawful, as well as seeking damages for the hold-up.

His 22-year-old son was beaten to death before his body was dumped at a quarry outside north Belfast in November 1997.

The killing was carried out by a UVF unit based in the Mount Vernon area of the city.

Despite a series of preliminary hearings, a full inquest has yet to get underway.

Delays have been linked to investigations into paramilitary crime attributed to UVF members operating in the Mount Vernon estate.

In 2007 former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan found evidence that some Special Branch officers colluded in Mr McCord Jr's murder and a series of other killings.

Lawyers for the victim's father have issued judicial review proceedings against the PSNI, the Coroner's Service and the Department of Justice.

Opening the case, Mr O'Rourke said: "It was a brutal murder perpetrated by loyalist paramilitaries, some of whom the applicant believes were police informants."

He argued that the Ombudsman's report had backed his client's view on collusion.

"When one reads the report it's self evident that (some) police had total contempt for the law," the barrister claimed.

Mr Justice McAlinden was told a suspect referred to as Man D is believed to have carried out the murder on the orders of an associate labelled Informant 1.

Police investigating the killing failed to seize clothing from Man D for forensic checks.

With the 22nd anniversary of Mr McCord Jr's death approaching, the court heard that period of time is enough to establish evidence of an unreasonable delay.

"The investigation which was said to have been carried out was totally inadequate," Mr O'Rourke claimed.

He added: "The respondents have failed in their public law obligation... to deliver a prompt and efficient investigation into the circumstances surrounding a controversial killing."

The case continues.

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