A widow denied compensation after her alleged paramilitary husband was gunned down in a loyalist feud has won the right to have her claim reassessed.
The High Court quashed a decision refusing payouts to Eileen Carson and her two children, and ordered their case to be reconsidered by a new appeal panel.
Her 33-year-old husband, Robert Carson, was shot dead along with UDA boss John “Grug” Gregg in a taxi near Belfast’s docks area in February 2003.
The killings were linked to a bloody dispute with a rival faction of the terror grouping.
Police at the time said Gregg, 45, was the target of gunmen who opened fire indiscriminately, not caring who else they shot.
Following the murder of her husband, a stained glass artist, Mrs Carson applied for criminal injury compensation.
The Compensation Agency turned down her request, stating that the Secretary of State did not consider an award would be appropriate.
The decision was based on police intelligence indicating that Mr Carson was an active member of an illegal loyalist paramilitary organisation.
Reference was also made to a mural depicting the victim as an active member of that grouping.
Mrs Carson insisted her husband had no involvement with paramilitaries, and was never convicted or arrested for terrorist-related activity.
His funeral had no paramilitary trappings, while his gravestone doesn’t make reference to any such links.
A second application for compensation lodged in 2013, with the planned focus on scrutinising and challenging the police intelligence, was also rejected.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeal Panel Northern Ireland (CICAPNI) dismissed Mrs Carson’s appeal in October 2014, deciding her claim had been dealt with and disallowed as far back as 2006.
With no appeal lodged at that stage, the panel held the matter was at an end.
According to its assessment the Northern Ireland Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2002 contains no provision for claims to be reopened in such circumstances.
Lawyers for Mrs Carson issued judicial review proceedings in a bid to have the CICAPNI decision quashed.
A High Court judge had to determine whether the 2002 scheme permits, in any circumstances, a second application for compensation for the same criminal injury.
In a ruling made last month but only published now, Mr Justice Colton held that the panel does have discretion to consider a fresh request.
He confirmed: “Accordingly I quash the decision of the CICAPNI, made on October 22, 2014, and I direct that the applicant’s appeal be remitted for reconsideration by a differently constituted panel.”