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2 April 2012 Edition

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UVF killed Sam Marshall as eight soldiers watched – Cover-up?


Sam Marshall

Not one of the eight highly-trained British Army surveillance operatives claimed to have seen the UVF gang’s red Rover as it drove three times along the route

THE FAMILY of Lurgan republican Sam Marshall, shot dead by the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force on 7 March 1990, have rubbished the report into his killing carried out by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

In a just-released publication produced by his family, they accuse the HET of having conducted a largely paper exercise aimed at deflecting focus away from the involvement of the British Army and RUC in his killing.

In the booklet, The Murder of Sam Marshall, the family says the HET was aware that on the night he was ambushed and killed, Sam and his companions, Tony McCaughey and Colin Duffy, were the focus of a major RUC and British Army surveillance operation.

Up to eight undercover British soldiers on the ground had the trio under close observation when they were attacked by a UVF death squad yet the HET refused to investigate the movements and radio logs of these units or their commander, an officer operating from a remote location.

This failure was especially damning as two of the undercover soldiers had followed the three men on foot and had visual contact with them from less than 100 yards when the gun gang struck at the junction of Kilmaine Street and North Street. The British soldiers maintain that they didn’t see the attack happening and therefore could do nothing to prevent it. However, eyewitness accounts tell a different tale, putting at least one of the British military personnel within 30 feet of the scene. 

On the evening they were attacked, Sam Marshall, his brother-in-law Tony McCaughey and Colin Duffy were making way back to Lurgan’s Kilwilkie Estate. The three had just signed their bail bond at Lurgan RUC Barracks. They had been arrested on January 2 and charged with possession of ammunition but had been granted bail. Their bail conditions were only known to themselves, their solicitors and the RUC.

On Wednesday 7 March, the men were on their way to Lurgan Barracks when they spotted a red Maestro car part of a crown forces surveillance operation directed at them but which was claimed later not to be about them.

As they made their way along North Street, the Maestro drove into North Street. A second vehicle, a red Rover, passed the men twice on North Street. The Rover contained the loyalist killers.

When the trio next saw the Rover, it was stopped some yards beyond the junction of North Street and Kilmaine Street. Fearing an attack, they crossed North Street, intending to make their way along Kilmaine Street. The gunmen jumped out of the parked car and opened fire. In all, 49 shots were fired.

As Colin Duffy made his escape along Kilmaine Street, Sam  Marshall fell to the ground, wounded. One of the gunmen walked towards him, firing more bullets into his body as he lay prone.

Tony McCaughey made his escape back along North Street. As he fled back the way he had come, McCaughey ran past one of the British soldiers involved in the surveillance operation. This fact, and the testimony of a number of eyewitnesses, undermines the statements of these soldiers who maintain they didn’t see the attack.

In the days after the ambush, questions were also asked about the Maestro and crown forces involvement in the killing.  

The RUC appointed a Detective Chief Inspector Clegg to investigate allegations of collusion in Sam Marshall’s death. Clegg’s appointment was greeted with disbelief by local republicans and the dead man’s family as the policeman had reportedly threatened Sam while he was in custody. It was no surprise to many that DCI Clegg found no evidence of collusion.

In 2008, the family reluctantly wrote to the HET. In July 2010, the draft HET summary revealed that Marshall, McCaughey and Duffy were indeed the subject of an intense surveillance operation instigated in 1989.

RUC Special Branch initiated the operation and on the night Sam Marshall was shot dead, nine British Army elite undercover operatives, using six vehicles including the Maestro, were involved. Not one of these highly-trained intelligence and surveillance operatives claimed to have seen the UVF gang’s red Rover as it drove, three times, along the route used by the three Lurgan men.

It also emerged that gloves found near to where the Rover was torched and placed in evidence bags were ‘lost’. Despite uncovering this new information, the HET has failed to answer the three questions put to it by the Marshall family:

  • Who shot Sam?
  • Who let it happen?
  • Who is continuing to cover it up?

Sam Marshall Map


An Phoblacht
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