30 September 2005

Ombudsman probes Derry torture claims

Belfast Telegraph

By Paddy McGuffin
29 September 2005

The Police Ombudsman's office today confirmed that it is to investigate allegations of torture against the Derry RUC dating back to 1979.

Four teenagers from Creggan were charged at that time with the murder of a young soldier. Evidence against them consisted of signed confessions to this and numerous other crimes.

Michael Toner, Gerry McGowan, Stephen Crumlish and Gerard Kelly were interrogated for three days and nights at Strand Road station without legal representation.

The four allege they were beaten and mentally and physically tortured to force them to sign false confessions.

They were charged with murder and spent seven weeks on remand in the Crumlin Road prison, being granted bail in an unprecedented move.

Gerry McGowan was even allowed to travel to England to play football.

When the four realised they were facing life behind bars they fled over the border and remained on the run, although living openly in the Republic, for the next 20 years.

In 1999 the case against them was dropped by the DPP.

Supporters argue that this, coupled with the granting of bail, indicates that the RUC always knew they were innocent.

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