Belfast Telegraph

Fresh queries over teenager's death

New queries from the family of a teenager shot dead in north Belfast are being dealt with by the Police Ombudsman, a coroner heard.

Gerard Lawlor, 19, was gunned down by the UDA as he walked along Floral Road, north Belfast, in July 2002 after a night out. At the time the UDA said the shooting was a "measured military response" to other sectarian attacks in the area.

William Johnston, acting deputy senior investigating officer at Ombudsman Al Hutchinson's office, said members of the office met the Lawlor family on September 29, 2011. Earlier they had given lawyers for the Lawlor family a copy of the report addressing complaints they made against police in 2006.

Mr Johnston said Ombudsman staff told the family they were going to consider some of the fresh queries which they raised. They are due to meet again at the end of this month.

Senior coroner John Leckey said: "The family might never be satisfied with the outcome and therefore there has to be finality."

Mr Lawlor, from the Whitewell Road in north Belfast, died from gunshot wounds to the chest.

Police lawyer Ken Boyd said the PSNI had written to the Ombudsman in June 2010 seeking a prior copy of the report to consider whether redactions should be made before it was given to the Lawlor family. He said he could find no evidence of that having been done, although the Ombudsman's office said the report was believed to have been sent.

Mr Leckey said: "You would imagine with something that has the potential to raise sensitivities that there would be a paper trail."

Family lawyer Niall Murphy said that in his opinion there were no sensitivities in the report and added the Ombudsman's office was "conservative" in drafting its reports.

Mr Leckey said: "Time is passing and we really have got to ... get on with the holding of the inquests."


From Belfast Telegraph