Police files ‘potentially relevant’ to GAA man’s murder

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Police files linked to a suspect in the loyalist murder of a GAA official which were found during the closure of a PSNI station are “potentially relevant” to the killing, a coroner has been told.

Reams of documents related to the individual suspected of involvement in Sean Brown’s shooting in 1997 were discovered during an inventory of the contents of Maghera station.

Mr Brown, 61, was abducted and killed as he closed the gates of a GAA club in Bellaghy, Co Londonderry.

Last month’s revelation about the files, which came nine years after the preliminary inquest process started and months before a potential full hearing is due, was met with shock and anger by Mr Brown’s family.

When the development emerged at a preliminary inquest hearing, a barrister representing Northern Ireland’s senior coroner John Leckey pledged to review the papers to assess their relevance.

Gerry McAlinden QC informed Mr Leckey he and a colleague had examined the contents of “10 to 12 boxes” and were due to inspect more documents.

“The process is ongoing,” he said during the latest preliminary hearing at Belfast’s coroners court.

“It would appear that from the inspection of the boxes we have seen there are some documents that are potentially relevant.”

The files focus on a separate money-laundering investigation in 2005 in which the unnamed individual was also a suspect.

Mr McAlinden had already warned the court that the time required to examine the “voluminous” documentation was set to further push back a potential hearing date in the case.

Mr Brown’s son Damien watched Thursday’s proceedings from the public gallery of the court. It was the 26th preliminary hearing to date.