Belfast Telegraph

Niece of murdered UDR man 'outraged' as police say prosecution now unlikely

By Leona O'Neill

The niece of a murdered part-time UDR man says she is "outraged and upset" after the Chief Constable revealed the suspect in her uncle's case is no longer of interest to the police and that a prosecution is "extremely unlikely".

Gerry McMonagle, known as William Gerard McMonagle, has previously been accused in Parliament of the IRA murder of Hugh 'Lexie' Cummings in Strabane in 1982.

His niece Shelley Gilfillan said she was shocked to hear Chief Constable George Hamilton tell the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster that, due to the death or serious illness of up to nine witnesses, missing original evidence and no fresh leads, the case had "run its course".

Mr Hamilton was being quizzed by DUP MP Gregory Campbell.

Mr Campbell asked if Mr McMonagle, now Sinn Fein mayor of Donegal, who had been pictured on walkabout in Londonderry alongside Taoiseach Leo Varadkar two weeks ago, was still of interest to police.

The PSNI chief stated that Mr McMonagle "was a suspect in that case, was arrested, interviewed and charged and then left the jurisdiction".

He said that the case was reviewed and in 2003 and the file resubmitted to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

"A number of witnesses in the intervening years had died, some of them were in such ill health they were unable to give evidence," the Chief Constable added.

"For a number of reasons some of the original exhibits were unable to be found, not that they were particularly conclusive anyway in that they were never likely to be a cause of a conviction in court.

"On the basis of all of that, in 2003 the PPS directed that the prosecution against this individual would be stopped, not proceeded with.

"There was nothing further on that case to put to the aforementioned individual. That has run its course."

Mr Hamilton said cases will continue to "go through a cycle of review, looking for other forensic opportunities or the application of new forensic techniques to old exhibits", and that it was "not a case of this person goes on the run, we lose interest and it's not proceeded against".

The Chief Constable confirmed that "prosecution against this individual for that murder is extremely unlikely" and that "he is certainly not wanted for interview by police at the moment in relation to that murder".

In 2010 Ms Gilfillan found out that Mr McMonagle's name had been submitted by Sinn Fein as an 'on-the-run' following a report by the Historical Enquiries Team.

She says her family had held on to some hope for justice and were never informed by the police that Mr McMonagle was no longer wanted by them.

"You would have thought that the PSNI would have got in contact with us to tell us that," she said.

"As Lexie's next of kin, I haven't been told by the police that the case has run its course.

"That upsets me greatly. We were just left in limbo.

"I'm not only disappointed but they haven't had the decency to come and tell us.

"Where they just going to let us go ahead and keep hoping for a prosecution, for justice for Lexie?

"I feel very let down.

"I am angry, I am annoyed. All I want is justice for my uncle Lexie, I'm not asking for anything else."

Mr Campbell later questioned why the passage of time had impacted on the case of Mr Cummings' murder, but not on that of Bloody Sunday.

Sinn Fein and Gerry McMonagle were both contacted yesterday but declined to comment on the matter.

Belfast Telegraph

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