Belfast Telegraph

Family of man killed during prison escape 'simply wants truth'

Hugh Gerard Coney was killed while escaping Long Kesh in 1974
Hugh Gerard Coney was killed while escaping Long Kesh in 1974

By Rebecca Black

The brother of an internee shot dead in 1974 as he attempted to escape from Long Kesh prison camp has welcomed the first step towards a fresh inquest.

The case of Hugh Gerard Coney (24) from Coalisland, Co Tyrone, was one of six mentioned at Belfast Coroner's Court yesterday.

The cases, including that of two men shot dead in a loyalist feud in 2000, are among dozens that are the subject of a series of preliminary hearings over three weeks.

The Department of Justice plans to release £55m over six years to deal with 52 legacy inquests involving 93 deaths.

Presiding coroner Mrs Justice Keegan will determine in which order outstanding legacy inquests should be heard following the ongoing preliminary hearings.

Yesterday, she heard that a fresh inquest into the death of Mr Coney, known to his family as Gerard, is likely to take around two weeks to be heard.

Mrs Justice Keegan said she would let them know where this case stands in coming weeks.

Speaking outside court, Mr Coney's brother Jim welcomed the brief airing of the case, saying his family simply wants truth and justice.

"He could have been arrested, he wasn't armed, he was interned. He had dug a tunnel and was running away along with a number of others when he was shot," he said.

Mrs Justice Keegan heard updates on five other cases including the killings of Jackie Coulter and Robert Mahood, who were shot dead in north Belfast in August 2000 during a feud between loyalist paramilitary groups the UDA and the UVF - as well as the shooting by the UVF of former loyalist prisoner Robert Moffett on the Shankill Road in May 2010.

Mrs Justice Keegan heard that the three murders are currently the subject of a Police Ombudsman (PONI) investigation, which is likely to take another 18 months to complete.

Updates were also heard on the killings of Leo Anthony Norney by soldiers in west Belfast in September 1975, RUC Sergeant Joseph Campbell by loyalists in Cushendall, Co Antrim in February 1977 and republican Sam Marshall, who was killed by loyalists in Lurgan, Co Armagh in March 1990.

The latter two cases are also currently part of two major investigations by PONI, both of which are examining the historic activities of the UVF.

The preliminary inquest hearings will continue to October 4.

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