02nd March 2006
New revelations emerged on Friday in relation to the murders of two teenagers, David McIlwaine and Andrew Robb, on February 19th 2000 in Tandragee by a number of known UVF members. The revelations centre on the initial police investigation into the double murder whereby senior-investigating officers at the time consistently told the family of David McIlwaine that they had insufficient evidence to prosecute those responsible. However, last Friday the family were contacted by another senior PSNI detective, who is now handling the case, to apologise on behalf of the PSNI for the damning information he was about to reveal. SIO Tim Hanley informed the McIlwaine family; ‘that substantial forensic evidence to prosecute a key suspect had always been available.’ Yet this information was not acted upon by the initial investigating officers and led directly to charges being dropped against a key suspect at the time. Mr. Hanley when asked by Paul McIlwaine, the father of David McIlwaine, confirmed that ‘this evidence was available from the outset and included DNA.’ It is now clear that these deliberate actions protected one of the killers from prosecution for almost 6 years.
The failure to prosecute a key individual involved in the murders during the initial investigation fuelled media speculation about the role of a police informant being directly involved in the horrific murders. A number media cited sources indicated that a Special Branch informant had both prior knowledge of the UVF plan to kill two people in Tandragee, and that this person also played a part in the murders.
This theory was given significant weight when the family contested the failings of the initial police investigation by ignoring both evidential leads and eyewitnesses. It was again added to when during legal proceedings around an inquest, initiated by the McIlwaine family, it was indicated by lawyers acting for Sir Hugh Orde that the Chief Constable might seek Public Interest Immunity (PII) preventing the McIlwaine family from seeing evidence surrounding the murder of their son David. Why the Chief Constable would have need for PII in killings that involved the UVF raised concerns.
Speaking on the revelation Paul McIlwaine, the father of 19 year-old David McIlwaine said;
‘We were deliberately misled from day one by the investigating officers, DCI Alan Todd and DCI Phil Aiken. Despite the bulk of evidence available both these men consistently told us that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute those involved in the murder of my son. We never accepted that this was the case. On the limited evidence available to us we had a number of human rights experts independently examine the evidence. All felt that on the body of evidence that prosecutions should have been taken.’
‘In light of this we publicly called into question the motives behind the failure of the police to prosecute those responsible for the murder of my son, including the failure of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), now the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), in both dropping charges and not pursuing all those involved the murders.’
‘In doing so we have been isolated and vilified by elements of the PSNI and abandoned by political representatives from within our own community for daring to seek truth and justice. Today we are vindicated in our stand to date for justice for David and we will not rest until all those responsible are brought to justice. This too includes those within the authorities who in our view have deliberately obstructed and perverted the course of justice.’
‘In recent times we have had a senior public figure make direct representations to Tony Blair on our behalf. This has had a cumulative effect of removing the officers involved in the initial investigation and the turning round of the investigation whereby two people are now in custody. We recognise that this is progress but are equally conscious that justice and truth remain largely outstanding.’
‘On Friday I was contacted by the senior officer now in charge of the case. I was informed that vital forensic evidence was available to the officers involved in the initial investigation.’
‘This now raises questions as to the reasons behind the failure of those senior officers to act on that evidence at the time including their consistent denials that any such evidence ever existed.’
‘In light of this I can only conclude that the course of justice in relation to two horrific murders was deliberately perverted by those officers. I am still of the firm view that evidence continues to be deliberately withheld to protect a senior UVF informant involved in the murders who is yet to be detained.’
‘I am naturally concerned that the senior officers involved in the initial investigation may well be in possession of further evidence and that it remains concealed. I therefore ask the question – were they acting under orders?
‘No matter how one looks at this it amounts to a cover-up in my book. The question remains exactly who is responsible and why?’
‘We are owed an explanation from the Chief Constable as to how this occurred and exactly what action is being taken? Particularly given that the Chief Constable constantly frustrated our efforts within the courts for disclosure of information about David’s murder.’
‘In 2005 the Ombudsman concluded a report into the initial police investigation which found that the police had carried out a thorough and professional investigation. I am puzzled as to this conclusion given these revelations and would call on the Ombudsman to reinvestigate this case in light of this information.’ ENDS
Editors Notes from an affidavit on behalf of the Chief Constable to the High Court on January 8th 2003.
In an affidavit filed on behalf of the Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, to the High Court on January 8th 2003 Det. Chief Inspector Alan Todd, the deputy senior investigating officer in paragraph 3 stated;
‘While one person, Steven Revels, was on 26th Feb 2000 charged with the murders of Andrew Robb and the Applicant’s son and remanded in custody this person subsequently was released on bail in December 2000 and following the opinion of senior counsel the DPP in Feb 2001 directed no prosecution on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
Para 4 – ‘Inquiries into the murders have continued but are largely exhausted. Since Nov 2002 there have been no evidential or intelligence breakthroughs or significant new developments.’
Additional information – We are also aware that one officer, a Constable Montgomery, who was involved in the investigation from the outset made a personal call to a senior UVF member about the murders on the morning that the bodies were discovered. The content to this call remains covert.
Paul McIlwaine can be contacted by the media on 07886457411