| 16.7°C Belfast

Inga Maria Hauser: No prosecution of suspects in murder probe

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has taken a decision not to prosecute two individuals in connection with the murder of German teenager Inga Maria Hauser in Northern Ireland more than 30 years ago.

After weighing up the evidence, prosecutors concluded there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction.

A 60-year-old man was reported to the PPS in connection with her murder and a woman reported on suspicion of withholding information.

The PPS said there was no evidence to link Ms Hauser to the male suspect after she got off the ferry at Larne or to the location her body was found.

DNA evidence did not match the suspect and there was a "lack of clarity" from expert evidence.

In relation to the second suspect, the evidence was insufficient to establish that she possessed and withheld information that would have been of material assistance to the police investigation, the PPS said.

The family were said to be "deeply disappointed and distraught" over the decision not to take the matter to the courts.

Claire McKeegan the family solicitor acting on behalf of the Hauser family said: “After all of this time we are no further on in term of identifying the person responsible of this heinous crime.

"The family are distraught as a consequence."

She said the PSNI had made progress in the case to a "limited extent" but concern remained over initial 1988 investigation when it would have been easier to collect evidence in the immediate aftermath of the killing.

She said key crime scene exhibits that may have had crucial DNA were not retained. They are working to have the Department of Justice appoint an independent panel involving a a pathologist, lawyer and police from outside Northern Ireland examine the case.

"We are well aware that there are people in the community who perhaps have knowledge of this case and have previously felt unable to share that knowledge," Ms McKeegan said.

"We appeal to anyone who may have relevant information however minor it might seem to make contact with us.

"We will be discussing with the family our next steps."

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael Agnew said: "The standard of proof required in a successful criminal prosecution is high.

"The PPS can only prosecute a case which is assessed as having a reasonable prospect of conviction. In this case, our conclusion was that the available evidence was insufficient to meet this standard and therefore the test for prosecution was not met."

The body of the Munich teenager Inga Maria Hauser was found dumped in a remote part of Ballypatrick Forest, outside Ballycastle, Co Antrim, 14 days after she was last seen alive on a ferry from Scotland.

She was found half naked with her neck broken, head and face beaten and bloodied in what was described as a violent and cruel attack.

The 18-year-old’s death in April 1988 remains one of the region’s most high-profile unsolved murders. No one has ever been charged with the murder.

The police investigation led to one of the largest DNA screenings ever undertaken in the UK, with 2,000 samples taken. None resulted in a match however.

On the 30th anniversary of the crime, detectives said they believed a number of people may have been involved either directly in the murder or in the subsequent cover-up, and said they only need fractional pieces of evidence to bring the chief suspects to justice.

Close

The tribute to murdered teenager Inga Maria Hauser

The tribute to murdered teenager Inga Maria Hauser

The tribute to murdered teenager Inga Maria Hauser

Ms Hauser had travelled through England and Scotland and, according to diary entries, intended to travel south to Dublin after her ferry docked at Larne, Co Antrim.

For unknown reasons she ended up going in the opposite direction and was found dead in remote woodland two weeks later.

It is thought the IRA carried out its own investigation into the killing 30 years ago.

It is believed republican paramilitaries had considered passing information about the alleged murderer to the Royal Ulster Constabulary at the height of the Troubles, but did not follow through.

John Dallat, the East Londonderry SDLP Assemblyman, who passed away aged 73 in May, worked tirelessly to prevent the case from being forgotten and kept pressure on police to continue their investigations.

Mr Agnew said that the reasons for the decision not to prosecute were outlined to Ms Hauser's family on Wednesday morning. He thanked her sister Friederike for taking the time to talk with them through a video conference. He said they would always be available to them should they need questions answered.

He added: "The murder of Inga Maria Hauser causes enduring distress and pain over 32 years later.

"We in the PPS acknowledge the deep disappointment felt today by the family and friends who loved Inga Maria and still miss her.

“The file received by the PPS contained the product of extensive PSNI investigations and was given the most careful consideration by a team of highly experienced prosecutors.

"The test for prosecution was applied to this evidence, in line with our code for prosecutors.

He added: “We have offered reassurance to the family of Inga Maria that this decision was taken only after a most careful and thorough consideration of all available evidence.”

Michael Madden solicitor of Madden and Finucane which represented the male suspect said the decision was the correct one.

"He co-operated with police during their investigation and vehemently maintained his innocence throughout," he said.

"During his police interviews, our client expressed sympathy towards Miss Hauser’s family and he hopes that the police are still able to find the person responsible for her tragic death."

Police said they would continue to investigate and renewed their appeal for information.

Belfast Telegraph