Widow to challenge police decision

The widow of a nightclub doorman shot dead almost 20 years ago is to challenge a police decision not to re-interview the murder suspects.

Seamus Dillon, 45, was gunned down outside the Glengannon Hotel in Dungannon, Co Tyrone in December 1997.

The former paramilitary prisoner and father-of-three from Stewartstown, Co Tyrone was hit hours after LVF leader Billy Wright was shot dead in the Maze prison in what is believed to have been a revenge attack.

A preliminary inquiry in Belfast High Court was told that his widow, Martina was seeking a judicial review.

Barrister David Heraghty, representing Mrs Dillon, said: “Within a matter of days these proceedings will be lodged.”

Lawyer for the Coroners Service Gerry McAlinden said progress in the inquest may be delayed but that the outcome of the High Court case would also have an impact on other legacy-related deaths.

Mr McAlinden said: “The coroner has no powers to compel the PSNI to investigate.

“The coroner does not have his or her own team of investigators. That’s an issue which needs to be addressed.

“I think progress will really only be made as a result of the outcome of the judicial review.”

At a previous preliminary inquiry it was claimed that the suspects were unlikely to co-operate.

In a statement issued after the hearing, solicitor Kevin Winters said he believed Mrs Dillon’s human rights had been violated by the PSNI decision.

He said: “Mrs Dillon agreed for the long-awaited inquest into Mr Dillon’s death to be postponed so that the PSNI could re-interview the suspects as requested to do so by Mr Leckey on November 10, 2014.

“She was under a legitimate expectation that the suspects in her husband’s murder would be re-interviewed by the PSNI and this has not occurred. The reasons for refusing to comply with the senior coroner’s direction were irrational and unfair.

“It is for these reasons that I believe a judicial review would have a good chance of success.”

Meanwhile, the court also heard that the weapon and vehicle used in the murder of Mr Dillon might be linked to other attacks.

It was also revealed that a key witness, Andrew Kidd, had requested to be excused from giving evidence on medical grounds.

Mr Kidd’s car had been used to transport the killers and he had been the subject of a punishment shooting at the time of Mr Dillon’s murder, it was claimed.

Mr McAlinden said a decision should not be made until closer to the full hearing and that new, compelling medical evidence should be produced.

Coroner John Leckey said: “That approach has been adopted in other inquests.”