21 May 2009 Edition

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Hamill Inquiry - RUC officer denies suspect tip-off

INQUIRY: Robert Hamill’s family arrive at the Interpoint building in Belfast for the

INQUIRY: Robert Hamill’s family arrive at the Interpoint building in Belfast for the

ONE of the four RUC officers at the scene during a brutal sectarian attack in which Portadown Catholic Robert Hamill was fatally injured denied at the Hamill Inquiry last week that he had tipped-off one of the loyalist murder suspects.
Robert Hamill was walking home with a friend and two female cousins when they were attacked by a sectarian mob in April 1997. An RUC Land Rover was parked just a few feet away but four armed officers in the vehicle ignored desperate pleas to intervene. The 25-year-old Catholic father of two died of his injuries 11 days later.
Telephone records show that a call was made from the home of Robert Atkinson, an RUC Reservist at the time, to Allister Hanvey, a suspect in the murder, just hours after the incident. Atkinson has denied advising Hanvey to destroy vital forensic evidence by disposing of clothing he had been wearing at the time of the attack.
Atkinson was initially charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice but the charge was later withdrawn after another couple claimed to have made the telephone call from Atkinson’s house.
During last week’s hearing, Atkinson was questioned by the Hamill family’s barrister, Barra McGrory, who accused the former RUC man of “telling lies for 12 years”.

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