04 January 2006

Guns used in brothers' murder linked to RUC

Belfast Telegraph

By Chris Thornton
04 January 2006

THE murder of three Catholic brothers that led to the Kingsmills massacre was carried out with guns later used by RUC officers in an attack on a pub, according to long-hidden ballistic evidence.

The forensic evidence shows that two weapons used to murder the Reavey brothers in south Armagh 30 years ago today were used five months later by three policemen in a gun and bomb attack on a pub. The officers - one of whom was on duty when the attack was carried out - were convicted of the attack, but only one was jailed.

Now the son of a man murdered in the wave of sectarian attacks that hit the region in 1975 and 1976 says a truth process is needed to explain the police link to the attacks.

The attack on the brothers in their home at Whitecross, Co Armagh, on January 4, 1976 and the simultaneous murder of three members of the O'Dowd family near Gilford, Co Down are believed to have led the IRA - then officially on ceasefire - to massacre 10 Protestant workmen at Kingsmills, Co Armagh the next evening.

The attacks started the second worst annual death toll in the Troubles, with another 290 people dying before 1976 was finished.

No one has been convicted for any of the three attacks.

The 24-hour spasm of violence began with the attack on the Reavey home. Two of the brothers, John and Brian, died immediately. Their 17-year-old brother Anthony died three weeks later.

A Luger pistol and a 9mm sub-machinegun used in the murders were matched by ballistic traces to a gun and bomb attack on the Rock Bar, outside Keady, which took place five months later. One man was wounded in that attack when the bomb failed to explode.

Three police officers were convicted in 1980 for the Rock Bar attack. One - who was already serving a life sentence for sectarian murder - was given a jail sentence while the other two were given suspended sentences.

A fourth policeman was convicted of withholding information and also received a suspended sentence.

The judge who passed sentence, the then Lord Chief Justice Lord Lowry, said "powerful motives" had pushed the officers, including "the feeling that more than ordinary police work was needed and justified to rid the land of the pestilence which has been in existence".

The RUC did not reveal the ballistic link between the Reavey murders and the Rock Bar attack for almost 25 years.

William McCaughey, the constable jailed for the Rock Bar attack, said it was "perfectly natural" for loyalists to be in the UVF and the RUC.

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