26 September 2002 Edition

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Turf Lodge rally against 'death drivers'

Hundreds of people from the Turf Lodge area of West Belfast turned out in support of the pressure group Families Bereaved Through Car Crime, marching through the area last Thursday 19 September, in protest against death drivers.

The rally, the last in series of rallies to be held throughout Belfast, was addressed by Kieran Conlon, whose 21-year-old son was the last person to killed by car thieves, when a stolen car ploughed into him in May of this year.

Meanwhile, the group has announced that it, in conjunction with the Beechmount Community Project, will unveil a mural at Beechmount Avenue on 1 October.

Designed by young people the mural depicts the classic painting by Norwegian artist Monk, 'The Scream'.

The young people involved in the project will be awarded with certificates for the work.

Commenting on the project Families Bereaved Through Car Crime said, "this event is very important for the families campaign as it shows the positive side to many of our young people and their disgust at car thieves".

The group has also announced that the Sinn Féin MP and party President Gerry Adams will unveil a memorial rock at the Poleglass roundabout on Sunday 29 September at 2pm.

Death driver found guilty of "murder"

A notorious car thief and drugs dealer was found guilty of murder in a Belfast Court on Tuesday 24 September.

Charlie Pollock, a close associate of some of West Belfast's most notorious car thieves, who have killed several people while driving stolen cars, was found guilty of killing Norman Thompson.

Thompson, a member of the RUC/PSNI, was killed on Kennedy Way in West Belfast in August 2000, after being hit by a car driven by Pollock.

Judge Joseph Coghlin rejected Pollock's plea of manslaughter and found him guilty of murder. Pollock was put back to be sentenced on 25 October and will get a life sentence - the mandatory sentence for murder.

Commenting on the case, Tommy Holland, a spokesperson for Families Bereaved Through Car Crime said, "the families are happy that the Thompson family has received justice".

However, he went on to criticise the inconsistency of the DPP and judiciary when it comes to dealing with car thieves.

Holland explained that in one case, car thief Desmond Savage, who drove a car at 103 MPH into the path of a car carrying a young family, was given only 8 years imprisonment. While his co-accused Jonathan Wylie and Stephen Light were given 9 months for allowing themselves to be carried in a stolen car. Car thief Brian Donnelly also died in the crash.

27 year old Charmaine Watson and her husband, Justin, 24, were killed in the collision on the Ballybogey Road near Ballymoney in County Antrim in July 1999 while their two children were seriously injured.

"We are campaigning against this inconsistency. The judiciary and DPP have in the past failed to deal with the issue of car theft and have given bail to known persistent car thieves.

"We are hopeful that this conviction sets a precedent", Holland concluded.

Shots fired at Portadown man

A Portadown nationalist had a lucky escape after loyalists opened fire on him, just after midnight on Sunday 22 September.

The man, who does not want to be named, had been in a bar watching the historic All-Ireland Final between Armagh and Kerry on Sunday and was walking along Ballyoran Hill, going towards Garvaghy Park, when a car pulled in behind him.

A second nationalist man, who by chance was nearby, but out of view of the occupants of the car, noticed someone in the car with a gun.

He shouted a warning to the first man, who dived for cover.

At this point the gunman in the vehicle opened fire and shot up to seven shots.

Portadown Sinn Féin councillor Brian McKeownsaid, "this is the third loyalist attack in this part of Portadown in the past six weeks and each of them has occurred within 150 yards of each other".

McKeown added that the shooting followed a day in which loyalists in Portadown made numerous attempts to prevent nationalists travelling to Dublin for the All-Ireland final.

"The PSNI yet again failed to deal with those loyalists who put a car on the railway line to stop trains. When that was cleared they planted a hoax bomb on the line and Armagh supporters had to be bussed to Newry to get to the match."

Ballymena man under threat from loyalists

A young nationalist living in Ballymena in County Antrim has been told by the RUC/PSNI that he is under threat from loyalists.

According to Sinn Féin councillor Philip McGuigan the young man now very concerned for his well being.

"The PSNI told the young lad that the threat was made through the Samaritans and that he was warned to get out of the country within 24 hours. However, the PSNI refused to give him any more information about the threat. He doesn't know who made the threat nor would they tell him the nature of the threat".

McGuigan said that the increase in loyalist activity in Ballymena has meant that young nationalists are living under a constant threat.

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