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Special Branch officer referred for possible prosecution

Daniel McColgan was shot dead by loyalist gunman as he arrived for work

A SPECIAL Branch officer has been referred for possible prosecution over alleged conspiracy to murder and perverting the course of justice following an investigation by the Police Ombudsman.

The probe centred on the running of agents in north Belfast and was completed in March when a file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service.

Prosecutors have also been asked to consider whether to bring a charge of misconduct in public office.

Details of the development emerged yesterday at the inquest into the death of Catholic postman Daniel McColgan (20).

Mr McColgan, from Whitewell in north Belfast, was murdered by two UDA gunmen in January 2002 as he arrived for work at a sorting office in nearby Rathcoole.

The coroners court was told that the officer, then a detective constable, was the Special Branch liaison assigned to work with the team investigating the murder of the father-of-one and as such attended case conferences.

However, barrister Joseph McEvoy, appearing on behalf of the Crown Solicitor Office, said the Ombudsman investigation was unconnected to the McColgan case.

Roy Suitters, who led the PSNI investigation into the murder, denied the officer was "pivotal" to his inquiry, saying his role had been to "listen to what was being talked about and if he had anything to contribute".

The PSNI was last night unable to say if the Special Branch officer is still serving.

Meanwhile, the inquest also heard Mr Suitters say it would "not have been sustainable" for police to have mounted blanket patrols in the area where Mr McColgan and three other men were killed in just over a year by a UDA murder squad.

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