The family of Rosaleen O’Kane “hopeful” after Court Ruling

RFJ member Kathleen Graham, successfully obtained leave today to challenge the PSNI’s continued failure to investigate the murder of her sister Rosaleen O’Kane. Rosaleen,  a 33-year-old single woman, was found murdered in her flat at Cliftonpark Avenue, Belfast on the 17th of September 1976.  Miss O Kane’s body had been stripped naked, set alight and she had sustained a fracture to her skull. The original post-mortem examination in 1976 was unable to determine the exact cause of death because the pathologist could not conclude whether the fracture had been inflicted before she died or was a consequence of the fire. The same report confirmed that there was no smoke inhalation in Ms O Kane’s lungs.

Solicitors Harte Coyle Collins took the case on behalf of the family who have repeatedly requested a fresh investigation since they initially met with the PSNI in 2002. Despite the case being allocated to the Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT), who identified actions and made recommendations in the case, it was then transferred through PSNI departments including the Historical Enquiries Team (the HET) the Retrospective Murder Investigation Team (REMIT) and the Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB), yet no proper investigation has taken place.

Kathleen Graham, sister of Rosaleen O Kane, said today:

“I am hopeful following todays hearing. I felt the Judge had listened. We have been more than patient waiting on them investigating Rosaleen’s murder.  We would like the truth.  Even one bit of truth.  Rosaleen was our sister, but she was like our mother.  I still miss her every day.”

Responding to the granting of leave in the case, Relatives for Justice who have worked with Kathleen Graham and her family for a number of years commented:

“This case epitomizes the egregious delay and lack of communication that bereaved families are experiencing when they seek to know the true circumstances of how their loved ones lost their lives. Judge Humphreys set out the time line in this case, which incredibly stretches from 2002, when it was first looked at by the PSNI until the present day, and made the point that nothing has changed over that time – PSNI have always had a duty to investigate and take measures to bring offenders to justice.

The judicial comments regarding the family’s appalling treatment in this case are strong. The family of Rosaleen O’Kane have been pushed from pillar to post by the various investigative teams within the PSNI who have continually failed to investigate this case.

It is obvious to anyone who reads what this family have been put through that the PSNI should not have responsibility for legacy cases. It is unethical that this family have waited 05 years, from 2011 when they were told that the police had identified suspects and recommended actions, yet the police have done nothing. The family of Rosaleen O’Kane, like so many others have had to ask the Court to intervene. We hope the granting of leave will force the police to investigate this case urgently, and compel real action to stop the terrible way that legacy victims are being treated, and finally begin the set-up of the long promised institutions under the Stormont House Agreement.“

The full Judicial Review hearing is now scheduled for the 26th and 27th April 2023.