Catholic man’s 1991 murder ‘nor properly investigated’

Court
Court

Police have failed to properly investigate a loyalist paramilitary murder shrouded in allegations of security force collusion, the High Court has heard.

Catholic voluntary worker Peter McTasney was shot dead by a UVF gang at his home on the outskirts of north Belfast 25 years ago.

Amid claims that the killers were led by a Special Branch agent, the victim’s brother Thomas is now taking legal action over alleged delays in the inquiries.

His lawyers argued that the PSNI has unlawfully failed to discharge its obligation to investigate within a reasonable time.

Mr McTasney, 26, was gunned down in the living room of his house in Bawnmore, Newtownabbey in February 1991.

Loyalists armed with a gun and sledgehammer opened fire in the presence of his three-year-old daughter.

A Police Ombudsman report identified the murder as one of 10 linked to a UVF unit operating out of the Mount Vernon estate.

Reference was made to an ‘Informant 1’ arrested and interviewed by Special Branch handlers before being released without charge.

According to legal papers in Thomas McTasney’s judicial review proceedings, that informant is widely known to be Mount Vernon man Mark Haddock.

The case also features claims that investigators were removed from investigating alleged criminality committed by Haddock’s former associate-turned supergrass, Gary Haggarty.

Haggarty, 44, is currently facing a record 212 charges, including five murders and a catalogue of other paramilitary crime.

The suspected former UVF commander is now believed to be living in England after becoming a police informer.

He is still waiting to discover if he will stand trial for the alleged offences.

Thomas McTasney’s legal team claimed there are fears some do not want to see Haggarty give evidence in court because of what he might say about former Special Branch handlers.

They are seeking a declaration that the PSNI has unlawfully failed to complete an investigation without undue delay.

Countering submissions on behalf of the police that the case was premature, barrister Sean Devine claimed there is growing mistrust in the security forces due to continued suspicions of collusion.

Judgment was reserved in the application for leave to seek a judicial review.