Mother of disappeared teenager was mentally tortured, daughter tells inquest

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The heartbroken mother of a teenager murdered and secretly buried by the IRA was left mentally tortured as she tried to convince herself he had run away to marry, an inquest has heard.

Belfast student Kevin McKee, 17, was abducted in the city in October 1972. He was never seen alive by his family again.

Family members for Kevin McKee

Family members for Kevin McKee

His body was finally found last year in the same shallow grave in the Irish Republic as another of the Disappeared victims of the Troubles - 25-year-old Seamus Wright.

Separate inquests for the pair were convened in Dublin Coroner's Court.

In the first hearing before coroner Myra Cullinane, a six-person jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing in the case of Mr McKee.

The court heard that the teenager from west Belfast was arrested by police in early 1972.

Family members for Kevin McKee

Family members for Kevin McKee

He then went missing for a period of months, apparently having travelled to England, amid rumours the IRA were looking for him on suspicion he had become a British informer.

He returned to Belfast in the late summer of 1972 but vanished again a short time later.

Kevin's sister Philomena McKee told the court her mother Mary died in 2011 having never found her beloved son.

"As a child I used to go out with my mother to look for him, she used to sit waiting for him to come home," she said.

"She suffered from mental health issues since Kevin went missing - her health deteriorated from then until her death.

"She used to say 'maybe he went off and married someone and didn't want us to know'."

Ms McKee added: "She was mentally tortured. The day they took my brother they took my mother too."

In 1999, the IRA issued a statement admitting involvement in the disappearance of nine people - two of whom were Mr McKee and Mr Wright.

The Provisional movement provided further information that their bodies had been buried in bogland in Co Meath.

A number of searches in subsequent years proved fruitless.

The bodies were ultimately found inadvertently in June last year on reclaimed bogland near Coghalstown, Co Meath, during a search for another Disappeared victim - Joseph Lynskey.

The remains were found by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR).

The commission, which was set up by the British and Irish governments in the wake of the Good Friday peace agreement, is tasked with investigating the cases of 16 people killed and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles.

To date the remains of 12 people have been recovered.

Mr Lynskey and three others - Robert Nairac, Seamus Ruddy and Columba McVeigh - are still to be found.

Relatives of other Disappeared victims attended Thursday morning's hearing.

Sean Megraw, whose brother Brendan's body was found in 2014, and Maria Lynskey, niece of Joe Lynskey, watched proceedings from the public gallery.

The inquest for Mr Wright was due to be heard later on Thursday.