Former police officer will not face prosecution over Glenanne Gang murders

Former police officer will not face prosecution over Glenanne Gang murders

A FORMER police officer will not face prosecution in relation to 10 murders linked to the Glenanne Gang that were carried out during the Troubles.

The loyalist paramilitary group is believed to have murdered around 120 people during the Troubles, mainly Catholic civilians.

A file from the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland reported the former officer — referred to as Officer A — for consideration in connection with 10 of the murders.

However, following a review of the file, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) decided the available evidence was insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.

"We have written to the families of the victims to explain in detail the reasons for the decisions reached in respect of their loved ones," said Martin Hardy, PPS Assistant Director.

"Although we understand that this will be deeply disappointing to them, we have assured them that these decisions were taken only after a rigorous evaluation of all the available evidence reported by investigators."


The 10 murders were the result of five gun and bomb attacks spanning a 16-month period in the 1970s.

Thomas McNamee died a year after being injured in a bomb attack on McArdle's Bar in Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh, on November 29, 1974.

On August 24, 1975, Colm McCartney and Sean Farmer were found with fatal gunshot wounds at Altnamackin, Co. Armagh after being attacked at a fake military checkpoint.

Patrick Joseph Donnelly, Michael Francis Donnelly and Trevor Brecknell were killed during a bomb and gun attack on Donnelly's Bar in Silverbridge, Co. Armagh on December 19, 1975.

On January 4, 1976, brothers John Martin, 24, Brian, 22, and Anthony Reavey, 17, were shot at their home in Whitecross, Co. Armagh.

John Martin and Brian were killed in the attack, while Anthony died of a brain haemorrhage a few weeks later.

Meanwhile, Patrick Mone was killed in a car bomb attack in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan on March 7, 1976.

'Pain and distress'

Mr Martin said the key evidence in the case consisted of a small number of documentary records containing allegations from another person that Officer A was involved in the attacks.

A prosecution would have required a hearsay application seeking the admission of these records into evidence.

"It was considered that even if such an application was granted, given the identified issues with the material, little evidential weight would be attached to the material and, in the absence of other evidence, there is no reasonable prospect of conviction," said Mr Martin.

"Accordingly, the Test for Prosecution is not met."

He added: "We are mindful of the continuing pain and distress of the families who have lived with the loss of their loved one for many decades.

"We have offered to meet them should they wish to address any questions they may have about the decision."

In a statement, the Pat Finucane Centre, which supports the families of those killed in the Troubles, criticised the need for such retrospective truth and justice.

"While this decision will be disappointing for the relevant families, the stark fact is that these cases were not properly investigated at the time the murders occurred (1970s) and, therefore, routes to justice 45/50 years later are negligible," they said.