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Probe into GAA killing ‘may take two years’

A police review into the sectarian murder of a GAA official by loyalist paramilitaries more than a decade ago could take up to two years, a preliminary hearing into his death was told yesterday.

Sean Patrick Brown was found dead next to his burnt-out car near the M2 in Co Londonderry on the morning of May 12, 1997.

The 61-year-old had been shot up to six times by members of the LVF after he was abducted by the gang as he locked the gates at the Wolfe Tone GAA clubhouse in Bellaghy following a club meeting the night before.

Despite three separate investigations, including one by former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, no-one has been charged with Mr Brown’s murder.

Yesterday, during the hearing in Belfast, Coroner John Leckey decided to delay any decision concerning the inquest after a senior member of the Historical Enquiries Team told the court that because of the extensive paperwork it could take “some time” before their probe was complete.

Mr Brown’s murder is one of hundreds being probed by the HET team. One of the remits for the coroner is to decide whether he should delay the date and wait for the unit to finish their probe.

John Brannigan told the hearing that because the team investigated murders chronologically, and because of the previous investigations, it was difficult to give a “timescale”.

He said: “We could have it completed within six months but it could also take up to two years.”

Mr Leckey ruled there should be a short adjournment to allow more information to be provided to the family about how long a HET probe will take.

Belfast Telegraph