Category: Archive

Leader of Nelson slay probe quits

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Almost four years after Nelson was killed in a loyalist car bomb attack, Port, the deputy chief constable of Norfolk, has left the inquiry without charging anyone in connection with the case.
Nelson was killed following death threats allegedly made by RUC officers during conversations with her clients, leading to suspicions of collusion between them and the loyalist murder gang.
The sophistication of the explosive device used pointed to a carefully planned assassination beyond the means of the loyalist Red Hand Defenders, a cover name for the UDA, which claimed the killing.
Despite claims that the investigation will continue, relatives of the dead lawyer fear the case has effectively been closed.
Nelson, a mother of three from Lurgan, represented the nationalist Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition in the controversy over Orange Order marches. She also defended Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, who successfully fought against a murder conviction.
Nelson went on to represent relatives of Portadown Catholic Robert Hamill, who was killed by a loyalist mob amid allegations that four RUC officers nearby had failed to protect him. She was preparing a private prosecution when she was murdered.
Despite international calls for an independent inquiry into her murder, Port was called in to lead a team of detectives drawn from England but which included RUC members.
Nelson’s brother Eunan Magee said he believed the investigation was being wound down. “That is the indication we have been getting for the last year,” he said. “We have seen that is the trend. Even though we expected this, there is still a sense of disappointment.”
Paul Mageean of the Committee on the Administration of Justice said he is concerned this “appeared to mark the end of the investigation. No one has been brought to justice and there are many unanswered questions on her death and allegations of security force involvement.”
Also last week, two north Antrim women accused of providing significant funds for the 1999 alleged IRA arms smuggling operation from Florida were released on bail.
Patricia O’Kane and Maria Brogan, both of Dunloy, are strongly contesting the charges against them. They were released but have to surrender their passports and report twice weekly to police.
Meanwhile, loyalists are suspected of murdering a man after getting his young son to bring him to the front door of his home. They are also being blamed for a gun and petrol bomb attack on a house in North Belfast and the shooting of a teenager in west Belfast.
Mark Apsley, 38, died in a hail of bullets when a lone gunman called at his house in the North Down village of Ballygowan on Saturday evening. Police said they were trying to establish a motive for the brutal slaying but said the killing of the Protestant father-of-two was not thought to be sectarian.
They were understood to be investigating claims the killing was linked to a dispute between Apsley and an East Belfast UDA boss.
The victim’s 5-year-old son answered a knock at the front door to a man who asked him to get his father, police said. As Apsley arrived at the door the gunman opened fire.

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