3 September 2009 Edition
Family may sue PSNI over crime scene failures
THE family of a man killed by loyalists in 1998 may sue the PSNI over failures identified by the Police Ombudsman.
A report by the policing watchdog revealed that no record exists to confirm whether key exhibits from the murder scene were seized or examined.
Fergal McCusker (28) had only recently returned from the United States when he was abducted by loyalists who took him to the rear of the Fairhill Youth Club where he was shot dead.
The Loyalist Volunteer Force admitted responsibility for the killing. No one has ever been charged with the McCusker murder.
A probe into the RUC handling of the subsequent investigation of the murder confirmed family concerns of inefficiency. According to the family, the RUC were called at 3am on the night of the murder but did not attend the scene until 9am.
There had been heavy rainfall overnight but the RUC made no attempt to secure or protect the crime scene. As a result, when footprints on a piece of cardboard found at the scene were sent for forensic examination, they were declared unidentifiable. Instead of being retained, the exhibit was destroyed within the year.
There is also no evidence that items recorded in crime scene photographs (a cigarette package and plastic bag) were ever submitted for forensic examination.
According to the Ombudsman, there was no evidence that the RUC ever interviewed or eliminated two suspects, one of which had been identified by a witness by distinctive facial tattoos.
The report also found the RUC had not fully investigated information from a confidential telephone call in which the caller identified a woman with knowledge of the murder.
For the Ombudsman’s investigating officer, John Davitt, this catalogue of serious admissions is simply a sorry tale of incompetence and failure. For many Northern nationalists, it’s an all-too-familiar pattern of systematic dereliction of duty most closely associated with collusion.
MURDER: The RUC made no attempt to secure or protect the crime scene