Loughinisland, the strange case of K

Who is person K, referred to in the PONI report ?

His family live between Clough and Dundrum. He is related to Delbert Watson who was convicted of the murder of Jack Kielty in Dundrum in January 1988. Also convicted of that murder were David Curlett and William Bell, the driver of the getaway car. Doreen Watson, whose husband had been murdered by the IRA , sister of Delbert , was convicted of manslaughter.

K , according to Maguire, is a heavily traced terrorist. He has been linked to a conspiracy to murder Peter McCarthy  and the attempted murder of John Henry Smyth. He is alleged to have been involved in the murder of Peter McCormack in Kilcoo on 19 November 1992.

Police told Maguire that he was part of a UVF unit.

Dear Reader, you might pause here to wonder, if the RUC Special Branch, inter alia , was involved in collusion with terrorists, why it would divulge this information to the PONI. I leave that with you.

K and others were identified by Special Branch  to the Loughinisland MIT on the morning after the murders, as potential suspects.

K was arrested and interviewed several times on 18 July 1994. He provided an alibi for the time of the shootings. He said that he was in the Clough Inn with his girlfriend.

This alibi was not properly investigated, says Maguire . It is hard to see what the police could have done , two years later, to establish the truth of the alibi.

Maguire makes a mistake when he says at paragraph 7.169 that K’s hair sample was obtained and found to be a ‘microscopic match ‘ to a hair recovered from a holdall. The bag had not been found at this point.

The holdall was  not found until  4 August 1994. A hair found therein was examined and K was arrested again on 22 August  and the match was made. Caution should be exercised re hair matching after the FBI scandal regarding the science of hair matching.

However, police had a holdall in which they had found, inter alia,  the hair and some overalls. The overalls showed a link with the seats of a Triumph Acclaim car found in a field and bearing a resemblance to the getaway car. Close by was found the VZ58 rifle which was the murder weapon. Fibres from the rifle matched fibres recovered from the Triumph Acclaim.

It is tolerably clear that the Acclaim was the getaway car.

Also, found on a roadway , was a blanket. It has not been properly examined.

I do not know if K has a criminal record, or other matters which might be used as bad character.

I do not know if the hair provided DNA evidence to link K to the bag.

In any event, it is hard to understand why K has not been charged in connection with the murders.

Maguire provides no explanation.

Additionally he makes no case that K was in any way protected, especially by Special Branch. If there was “collusion” as widely defined by Maguire , one might have expected Special Branch to have with held information in respect of K. Instead, the morning after the murders, they tell the MIT about K. K is , one might have thought, a prime suspect.

Maguire makes no criticism of the rigour of the initial investigation.

What is always absent from these reports is the general context.

Viewed as a homicide in leafy Surrey, I’m sure there are points to be made. Northern Ireland was a different environment, with the police overwhelmed by terrorist  crime.

But the question remains.

Who is K and is he a State agent?

That, more than grandstanding by Maguire , would be a fact that the relatives of Loughinisland would prefer to know.

 

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