Samuel Marshall Inquest daily summaries. Day 1: 20/3/23

The inquest into the death of Samuel ‘Sam’ Marshall began Monday, 20 March 2023. The inquest begins more than 32 years after Mr Marshall’s death. County Court Judge Philip Gilpin explained that the inquest will examine the broader circumstances around Mr Marshall’s death. He then expressed his condolences to Mr Marshall’s family, many of whom were present in the courtroom today.

Frank O’Donoghue, Counsel for the Coroner, stated that the inquest will endeavour to present forensic evidence in a way that causes the least possible harm to Mr Marshall’s family.

Mr Marshall was 31 when he was killed yards from Lurgan Police Station on 7 March 1990. The attack was later claimed by the UVF and UFF. Mr Marshall, Tony McCaughey, and Colin Duffy were all obligated to sign bail at the Lurgan police station twice a week. On the night of 7 March 1990 Mr Marshall, Mr Duffy, and Mr McCaughey were walking home after signing bail when they noticed a suspicious vehicle drive past them several times. Two masked men emerged from the vehicle and opened fire. Mr Duffy and Mr McCaughey were able to escape without physical injury, but Mr Marshall died immediately.

The first witness, Dr Jack Crane, confirmed that Mr Marshall died of gunshot wounds consistent with a high-velocity assault or army rifle. Read into the court record were five witness statements relating to the crime scene investigation, transport of Mr Marshall’s body, and maps and photos serving as evidence. Forensic expert Dr Gavin Donnell, who will provide additional information later in the inquest, testified that street furniture is the only notable change in the area’s landscape.

Mr Marshall had been previously detained in Long Kesh from 1976-1982, where he participated in the Blanket Protests and suffered abuse by prison officials. His eldest brother John described him as a focal point for the community and a good man.

Weeks before his death, Mr Marshall was the subject of an anonymous death threat, and Mr Duffy suspected that he, Mr Marshall, and Mr McCaughey were under surveillance by either the RUC or British Military.

The inquest continues Tuesday, 21 March 2023.

Samuel Marshall Inquest (Detailed Notes)

Major Parties Involved

Legal representatives/actors

  • Coroner: Judge Philip Gilpin (county judge)
  • Counsel for Coroner: Frank O’Donoghue (senior counsel) and Philip Henry (junior counsel)
  • Counsel for MoD/PSNI: Mark Robinson (senior counsel)
  • Counsel for Marshall family: Fearghal Shiels (barrister) and Malachy McGowan (solicitor)
  • Counsel for Colin Duffy: Gavin Booth Phoenix Law

Family members

  • Victim: Samuel ‘Sam’ James Marshall
  • Survivors: Colin Duffy, Tony McCaughey (also Sam’s brother-in-law)
  • Brother: John Marshall
  • Sister: Linda Hewitt

Tranche 1

Day 1: 20/3/2023


Coroner introduction

  • First tranche: scheduled for this week, then will adjourn before next tranche to hear further evidence.
  • Introduction to inquest: inquisitory (so neither civil nor criminal proceedings)
  • Three of four inquest questions (who, when, and where) already answered; so this will answer the how. Because it must be Art. 2 compliant, may likely include the broader circumstances of the death#

Frank O’Donoghue introduction:

  • Findings will be based only on evidence presented to inquest
  • Sam Marshall basic details:
    • DOB: 18/9/1958
    • DOD: 7/3/1990 (shortly after 7 PM, on Kilmaine Street in Lurgan)
    • Occupation: Labourer
    • Address at time of death: 26 Donnelly Gardens, Lurgan, Craigavon BT67 (part of Kilwilkie Estate), lived with parents
  • General circumstances around death:
    • 2/1/90 – Colin Duffy, Sam Marshall, and Tony McCaughey arrested for alleged possession of ammunition
    • 5/1/90 – sent to special court, where they were charged and remanded into custody
    • 1/2/90 – Sam and Colin released on bail, condition to sign the bail release forms two times per week (7:30 pm Wednesdays and 2:30 pm Saturdays) at Lurgan Police Station
    • 2/3/90 – Tony released on same terms
    • 3/2/90 – Colin and Sam’s first bail sign-in
  • Colin Duffy account – Usually went together with Sam to the bail sign-ins and always varied their route
  • 13/2/90 – anonymous threat called into Portadown police station naming 6 men (including Sam) who would be killed the next weekend (16/2/90-18/2/90)
    • Same day at approx. 10:25 pm, information passed to Lurgan police, and no evidence showing that Sam was informed of the threat issued
    • 20/2/90 – Colin and Sam were walking together. About 30 minutes later Colin noticed a wine-coloured Maestro with one male occupant and believed the vehicle was surveillance by either the RUC or military
      • Same day at Marshall house, RUC communicated to Sam’s mother (Sam wasn’t home at the time) of the threat against Sam’s life. This was 16 dayd after the threat was issued and two weeks after the weekend the threat was supposed to be enacted
    • 2/3/90 – Sam called Lurgan police and asked to speak with the inspector about the threat
    • 6/3/90 – around 11:45 am Colin became aware of a Cavalier with 3 male occupants following him in the Lurgan area. Throughout the day he noticed the same car, along with other cars, following him (implication that he believed he was being followed or was under observation)
      • Around 7pm that evening a red Rover, plate WIJ2349, was stolen from the home of a taxi driver. Driver reported that around 7:20 there was a knock on the door. 3 masked men, one carrying a gun, pushed into the house and hit the taxi driver’s wife. The men announced that they were UVF and ‘after the car.’ The man with the gun took the keys and held the family hostage that night. Later, Victor Graham admitted to involvement in this carjacking
    • 7/3/90
      • Around 7:05 pm Colin left his house to meet Sam at the Marshall house before walking together to sign bail
      • Around 7:30 pm Tony joined Colin and Sam, and the three walked together to the Lurgan police station. They arrived at the station at or around 7:30 pm
      • Colin, Sam, and Tony signed and left the station immediately, walking up North Street toward Kilwilkie Estate on the right side of the road. They saw a red maestro emergent from Ulster Street, heading toward town. They also saw a maroon Rover with 662 in the registration plate. The Rover had 3 occupants and was headed into town. They saw the car again, this time going countrywards (away from town). They found the second pass suspicious (thought maybe RUC or Military). Colin, Sam, and Tony walked up to the bend in the road and saw the Rover parked about 10 yards past the mouth of Kilmain Street. Colin, Sam, and Tony crossed the road.
        • The Rover’s plate was false and the car was the maroon Rover stolen from the taxi driver on 6/3/90. The plate number was real, belonging to a different maroon Rover (though owner was excluded from the investigation early).
      • When they crossed the road the front and rear passenger doors of the Rover opened and two masked men exited the vehicle. They lifted guns and Colin, Sam, and Tony ran. Sam and Colin were running up Kilmain when Colin noticed Sam was no longer with him. Colin ran to the footbridge, where he stayed for about 30 seconds. When he heard the shooting stop he went back and saw Sam laying on the ground. Tony ran back up North Street toward the town centre and took refuge in a house.
      • Emergency services arrived (police arrived around 7:45 pm even though this all happened yards from the station). Scene of Crime arrived and Sam was dead at the scene.
      • 8:10-8:18 pm – forensic doctor on scene, Sam pronounced dead at 8:12 pm and had 3 injuries to his head
        • Bullets and fragments found in Sam’s body were from a high velocity weapon and the majority of the wounds were on the right side of Sam’s body
      • Police began investigation into killing. They found the Rover burned out on the M1 motorway. The car was treated as the scene of a crime and forensic examination found a bullet magazine.
      • UVF sent an uncoded message of responsibility to a radio station, and UFF sent a coded message of responsibility (to whom?)
      • The investigation included Victor Graham (mentioned above in relation to carjacking). One other person was convicted, but not of murder. 23/6/92 – Victor Graham convicted of 32 offences, from murder (including murder of Sam Marshall) to unlawful possession of documents
        • Conviction was based solely on confessional evidence. Graham contested (and ultimately appealed) admissibility of the confession, arguing that it was obtained through RUC deception, but never challenged the veracity of the declaration itself. All of Graham’s challenges and appeals were unsuccessful.
      • This module will be ‘evidence of scene-setting nature, together with pathology evidence’ (from O’Donoghue’s intro)

John Marshall (brother) pen portrait of Sam Marshall

  • Sam was the 3rd eldest of 7 children: Linda, John, Sam, Jordan, Frances, Annette, and Gary (listed in birth order; check bolded names for accuracy)
  • As a child Sam had many pets and was described as a good wee character
  • 3/3/76 – arrested, held in Long Kesh, where he participated in the Blanket Protests. Sam also reported suffering beatings and strip searches by prison officials before he was released in 1982
  • Upon release, joined Republican politics and became a focal point for the local community
  • Wants an investigation to find out what happened

BBC News Footage

  • Day after incident (confirm)
  • People living on the street heard shots, and one witness to the incident said that they shot Sam multiple times
  • Allegations of collusion raised immediately, call for Stevens investigation

Pathology Evidence

O’Donoghue noted that they would only read the conclusion of the autopsy and related reports, as they wanted to be sensitive to the family’s presence at the inquest. If further information is necessary they will reassess at that time and determine how best to do that.

Witness: Dr Jack Crain (professor)

  • Coroner office requested report from Dr Crain – supplied with various sources (including the original autopsy report from Dr Carson, witness statements, photos, and forensic materials)
  • No major differences to Dr Carson’s original conclusion that death was result of GSW
    • Several bullets or major bullet fragments from high velocity weapons. Wounds too ragged to determine if they were entrance or exit wounds but the majority of injuries were on the R side of Sam’s body
    • Damage from GSW to head would have caused immediate collapse and rapid death
    • Also had injuries in right shoulder, upper arm, and chest, but none in the chest cavity
  • In photos of the scene of the crime, Sam looked to be on his back (covered at least partially by cloth material but determined by positioning of his feet), but at some point had to be laying face-down when some of the bullet wounds were received
  • Dr Crain conclusion: death due to GSW
    • Bullet wound near right ear, would have caused immediate collapse and rapid death
      • Bullet fragmented, one portion exiting through the top of his head and one through the right orbital
    • Also some fragments in abdominal cavity
    • Some injuries (including GSWs to lower back) must have been received when Sam’s body was laying face-down on the ground
    • Injuries consistent with injuries from high-velocity weapons such as military or assault rifles

Witness (Rule 17 – statement read into record): JP McConnell

  • Forensic medical officer
  • Statement from 8/3/90 – attended scene on night of death, determined instantaneous death from head wound

Witness (Rule 17 – statement read into record): John McLearon

  • Funeral director, picked up body and took it to funeral house where it was received by employee

Witness (Rule 17 – statement read into record): Reserve Constable Wilfred Weathers

  • Accompanied John McLearon to transport body

Witness (Rule 17 – statement read into record): Robert Henry Anderson

  • Confirmed/proved maps

Witness (Rule 17 – statement read into record): Ashleigh (spelling?) Middleton

  • Confirmed/proved photos

Witness: Dr Gavin

  • Forensic engineer/expert – will give more information/reports during the inquest, so this will be considered report number 1
    • Asked to prepare report into event

Changes in the landscape of the area, but only in street furniture