Belfast Telegraph

RUC man cleared of the notorious murder of Catholic colleague Joseph Campbell dies following illness

By Amanda Ferguson

The ex-Special Branch officer who was found not guilty of the 1977 murder of RUC Sergeant Joseph Campbell has died.

Charlie McCormick (77), who lived outside Ballymena, passed away at the weekend following an illness.

Mr McCormick hit the headlines recently when the Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire published a 50-page report into the Donegal-born man's murder, which took place outside Cushendall RUC station on February 25, 1977.

The killing of the Catholic RUC officer was one the most controversial of the Troubles.

Mr McCormick was acquitted of the father-of-eight's murder.

He was convicted of a total of 27 charges including possession of explosives and firearms and armed robbery, but these convictions were quashed on appeal.

Prior to his death Mr McCormick had consistently denied any involvement in Sgt Campbell's murder.

He later sued the police for wrongful dismissal and had his police pension reinstated.

Sergeant Campbell's family has always maintained that there was security force involvement in his murder.

Before his death he reportedly told another Special Branch officer he believed rogue elements in the force were plotting to kill him.

The Campbell family believe the killing was carried out by a loyalist paramilitary – Robin Jackson – with the aid of rogue elements of the security forces.

Sgt Campbell's son Joe Campbell jnr has campaigned tirelessly for justice since his father was shot dead.

"I'm determined to see my father's killers convicted in court," he told Sunday Life last week. An investigation by our sister paper earlier this month revealed Mr McCormick, who may have had knowledge of the killing, was staying silent on the matter, as was the agent who on his orders infiltrated the IRA – Tony O'Doherty.

A Police Ombudsman's report into the murder of Sgt Campbell published in June said the murder could have been prevented if senior members of the force had acted properly.

The report said that "senior RUC officers and management had information on a very specific threat and failed to respond".

Mr McCormick was not named in the dossier.

In interviews with police following his arrest in 1981, the Special Branch detective admitted that his IRA agent O'Doherty told him the names of Sgt Campbell's killers and "it was a dirty one and no one wanted to know about it".

McCormick also insisted: "I didn't do Joe Campbell and I didn't do these things. Before God I didn't."

Story so far

Catholic father-of-eight Sergeant Joseph Campbell (49) was shot dead as he closed Cushendall RUC station in Co Antrim in 1977.

A report by the Police Ombudsman last month said that the murder could have been prevented by senior RUC commanders.

Sgt Campbell's family said he was about to expose loyalist paramilitary activity in the Co Antrim village.

In 1981 Charlie McCormick was charged but acquitted of murdering his colleague.

But he was convicted of 27 charges, which were later quashed on appeal.

Belfast Telegraph

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