Belfast Telegraph

Probe into loyalist killing of Patrick Benstead could take two years

By Alan Erwin

An investigation into one of Northern Ireland's most gruesome killings is set to take up to two years to complete, the High Court heard.

The family of loyalist murder victim Patrick Benstead was previously told the Police Ombudsman's probe would be fast-tracked. But after receiving the latest timescale, lawyers for the dead man's brother are now pressing ahead with a legal challenge over funding cuts to the independent watchdog.

Mr Benstead, a 32-year-old Catholic man from east Belfast, was subjected to sectarian torture after being abducted in 1972. He was taken to a loyalist drinking den where he was beaten and shot.

Last year the current Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, revealed his budget had been reduced by around £750,000.

The victim's brother, Colm Benstead, claimed that would deny the right to a prompt investigation to establish whether his brother's killing was preventable, linked to other murders or involved any collusion.

He is seeking to judicially review Justice Minister David Ford over the decision to reduce resources.

A judge was told the case has been linked with a number of other high priority probes.

In court yesterday, counsel for Mr Benstead said new information had been received about the expected length of the inquiries.

Following submissions Mr Justice Treacy agreed to put the case in for hearing on a date to be fixed.

Belfast Telegraph


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