Hairs of Kingsmills suspect found inquest told

Front Page of The News Letter Tuesday Januray 6, 1976.
Front Page of The News Letter Tuesday Januray 6, 1976.

The inquest into the Kingsmills massacre inquest has heard today that two hairs have been found of a possible suspect.

The news presents an opportunity to link a suspect to earlier shootings involving the Kingsmills gang.

The information came to light during examination of Dr Ruth Griffin, a retired forensic scientist who helped review the case with the Historical Enquiries Team.

Alan Kane QC for the families revealed that hair was recovered from the scene of the Tullyvallen massacre in south Armagh before the Kingsmills murders.

Ten Protestants were shot by the IRA at Kingsmills in south Armagh as they drove home from work in a minibus in 1976.

The IRA killed five people at Tullyvallen Orange Hall in south Armagh the year before Kingsmills.

Mr Kane noted that the inquest has heard the same suspects were involved in both attacks and asked Dr Griffin whether any effort was made to link the hair to the suspects.

She had not seen any records to suggest this had been done, she said.

Mr Kane asked the coroner to look into the matter.

Counsel for the coroner said lawyers for the families had enquired about this and that results on tests of the hair were now available for him to consider.

The coroner said he would look at any investigative opportunities presented by the hairs next week.

The inquest considered at length what opportunities may have existed for DNA matches to identify suspects based on exhibits linked to the 1976 shootings.

The hairs may not provide a direct evidential link to the Kingsmills Massacre but could provide a fresh investigative line against the same gang, who are suspected of being behind both the the Tullyvallen attack in 1975 and the Kinngsmills attack in 1976.