How OTR deal blighted HET’s work

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-

“The secret negotiations with the Provos, which gifted their OTRs the comfort of effective immunity, undermined and blunted the HET’s work. While victims craved justice their government was conspiring with the victim-makers to ensure it wouldn’t be obtained. That is the obscenity of the OTR deal.

“I suspect there were many HET cases blighted in this way, but this case study illustrates the point.  Lexie Cummings was a part-time UDR man, who was murdered in broad day light as he sat in his car on Lower Main Street, Strabane at 1pm on 15 June 1982. He was murdered when bullets were pumped into him by gunmen in a Ford Cortina car which pulled up alongside him.

“Within an hour good police work had four men in custody. One of them was William Gerard McMonagle, now a Letterkenny councillor. He was charged with the murder after firearms residue was found on his clothing and fibres from his clothes linked him to the Cortina car. A police blunder led to the charges being dismissed at the Petty Sessions, but he was re-arrested. Amazingly, a further blunder led to his release a second time and he fled across the border. Extradition was not pursued, though it ought to have been. The guns used to murder Lexie Cummings were recovered in Donegal a few weeks later.

“The HET report records that the forensic examination of the relevant scenes was immediate and thorough and it was this examination that proved the linkage between McMonagle and the murder car. The HET report speaks of “compelling evidence of the cross transfer of fibres between his clothing and the front passenger seat of the Ford Cortina car and compelling evidence of firearm discharge residue, both in the Ford Cortina and on William McMonagle.”

“The HET report states, “A review into Lexie’s murder was carried out by the “On the Run” (OTR) review team, in 2003, following William McMonagle’s inclusion on a list of OTRs supplied by Sinn Fein to HM Government……Following this review the DPP rescinded the direction of December 13, 1982, to prosecute William McMonagle and directed no prosecution against him.”

“A lead Forensic Scientist was asked by HET to review the forensic evidence and confirmed the conclusions would be unlikely to be altered by the application of modern techniques or the passage of time. Sadly, but maybe conveniently for those wishing to facilitate the OTR scheme, many of the original exhibits are now missing, though when they disappeared is not known.

“So, here is a case where the OTR had actually been charged with murder, on the strength of good forensic evidence, yet when the OTR review takes place he was given a comfort letter saying he was no longer wanted! This has much of the appearance to me of what Norman Baxter spoke to the NI Committee about in November 2009 when he talked about an unhealthy interest by the NIO in getting OTRs cleared.”

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