01 December 2005

Probe into death of loyalist suspect is ruled out

Belfast Telegraph

By Chris Thornton
30 November 2005

The sudden death of a loyalist named as the murderer of two teenagers will not be examined by an inquest, court authorities confirmed yesterday.

Noel Dillon - a key suspect in the murders of David McIlwaine and Andrew Robb five years ago - is believed to have taken his own life. But the decision to issue a death certificate without an inquest has mystified the father of one of the victims.

Yesterday, Paul McIlwaine said questions about Dillon's death - and whether it was linked to the murders - must be answered. He said he has been told Dillon left no suicide note.

A bail court heard last week that another suspect told police that Dillon stabbed Mr Robb with a boning knife and almost decapitated David McIlwaine. They were found by a remote road near Tandragee, Co Armagh on February 19, 2000.

Two men were recently charged with the murders after a nationwide television appeal.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed in January that Dillon, who had been arrested and questioned shortly after the murders, had been found dead.

His body was found in a house on the Hamiltonsbawn Road, Armagh, on January 10 and he was buried three days later.

The death was reported to the Coroner and Dillon's family was issued with a death certificate later this year, indicating that there would be no inquest.

"It's hard to believe that one of the main suspects in the case died in unusual circumstances and there isn't an inquest," Paul McIlwaine said yesterday.

"I would have thought it would have been automatic.

"Noel Dillon's circumstances were very unusual. He went into hiding in the south of Ireland after the murders, then someone put him up in a house in Belfast, and then he's found dead. We're told there was no suicide note.

"There have been that many things happening during the whole five-and-a-half years that don't add up. That's no reflection on the investigating team, but I think some of these questions need to be answered."

Inquests are frequently held into suicides, but the decision is left to the Coroner's discretion.

A statement from the Court Service said: "In this case, having examined the available information, he concluded that it was an act by his own hand and that no inquest was required."

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