Strength of evidence against ex-RUC officer in Reavey murder probe unclear

The police ombudsman (PONI) has declined to state if a former RUC officer named in a triple murder file sent to prosecutors has ever been arrested or questioned about the horrific crime.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 4:15 am
Eugene Reavey with photographs of his murdered brothers

It emerged yesterday that PONI had submitted a “prosecutorial advice file” to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in respect of the UVF attack on three Catholic brothers – from the Reavey family – in January 1976.

John, 24, Brian, 22, and 17-year-old Anthony Reavey were shot dead in their Whitecross home in south Armagh.

Speaking to the Irish News, the victims’ brother, Eugene Reavey, described news of the development as “a major breakthrough” for both him and his family.

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However, PONI has declined to comment on the strength of the evidence against the former officer, and whether any likelihood of a prosecution.

The ombudsman’s office has also declined to state if the ex-officer has ever been questioned about the murders or any other offences.

The Reavey brothers were among 16 people killed during a 24-hour period of sectarian carnage in Co Armagh.

Within minutes of the Whitecross attack, UVF gunmen burst into the home of the Catholic O’Dowd, family 15 miles away in Ballydougan, and murdered Joe O’Dowd and his nephews Declan and Barry O’Dowd.

The following day, republican gunmen murdered ten Protestant textile workers at Kingsmill near Bessbrook.

Responding to news of PONI’s correspondence with the PPS, Eugene Reavey said it was “regrettable that the police did not do their job sooner”.

He said: “This is 46 years in the making. I told them 40 years ago who murdered my brothers and they never gave me any heed. I now look forward to seeing those responsible in court and held to account for their actions.”

His solicitor, Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law, said: “For over four and a half decades the Reavey family have pursued a dignified and admirable campaign for justice which at times seen certain corners vilifying Eugene Reavey.

“Today exonerates our client’s campaign for justice which has exposed the state sponsored Glenanne gang.”

PONI has stated that the advice being sought from the PPS relates to “potential offences,” including murder.

A spokesman said: “The Police Ombudsman’s Office has submitted a prosecutorial advice file to the Public Prosecution Service in relation to potential offences by a former RUC officer in the 1970s.

“The potential offences include the murders of brothers John, Anthony and Brian Reavey at Whitecross in Co. Armagh in 1976.”

The spokesman added: “It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

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