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Jean McConville’s son a cowardly burglar

A son of IRA murder victim Jean McConville has been jailed for five years after he admitted being part of a gang who burgled and ransacked the home of an elderly couple nine years ago.

Belfast Crown Court heard yesterday that 43-year-old James Paul McConville sat smoking in a Subaru Legacy car parked at a nearby residential home while his two accomplices, who have never been brought to justice, forced their way into the Lisburn home of George and Thomasina Foster in January 2001.

Prosecuting QC Stephen Fowler said that the men, claiming to be from the UDA, demanded to know the whereabouts and combination to their safe.

Callously, when Mr Foster “slumped to the ground”, the men refused to let him have medication for his heart condition and instead produced a black handgun and threatened to shoot them.

Somehow Mr Foster (82) escaped and ran to a neighbour's house to summon help, but after he told them what was happening he fell unconscious and died.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Weir said it was “impossible to escape the conclusion that the fatal heart attack was precipitated by the activities of these burglars”.

He said a “diligent police investigation” led officers to McConville after his DNA was uncovered on cigarette butts where the Subaru Legacy had been parked, but when he was |released on bail he fled to the Republic of Ireland, where he remained until he was arrested in August 2008.

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McConville, from Thornhill Crescent in Dunmurry, was originally charged with Mr Foster's manslaughter but that was left on the books after he pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the aggravated burglary of their home and to aiding and abetting the couple’s false imprisonment.

In jailing McConville for five years, after he agreed to spend a further two years on probation, Mr Justice Weir told him: “The burglary of the homes of elderly people is among the most cowardly and disgraceful of crimes.”

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