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Miami Showband survivor makes ombudsman complaint about watch mystery

Miami Showband massacre survivor Stephen Travers
Connla Young

THE Police Ombudsman is investigating claims by a survivor of the Miami Showband massacre that cold case detectives failed to investigate a wrist watch said to have been found at the scene.

Stephen Travers claimed that the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) refused to investigate the watch when details emerged in 2010.

The attack was carried out by members of the Glenanne Gang, which included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF.

Three musicians, including lead singer Fran O’Toole, died when the killers stopped the leading showband’s minibus at a bogus UDR check point near Banbridge in July 1975.

Two of the loyalist gang also died when the bomb they were planting exploded prematurely.

Mr Travers said details of the watch emerged when the son of a former RUC man who investigated the murders found it in a box of his father’s possessions marked ‘Miami Showband’.

He later presented the watch to Mr Travers in the belief it belonged to one of the band’s members.

 A watch said to have been found at the scene of the Miami Showband massacre

An expert later told him it was of German origin and was popular with soldiers during World War Two.

Many of the watches were brought back to Ireland and Britain by British soldiers returning from the war.

The expert also found a name faintly engraved on the back of the watch.

Mr Travers said he passed it to the Historical Enquiries Team, which at the time was investigating the atrocity.

But he claimed the police team, which no longer exists, subsequently returned the watch to the RUC man’s son without investigating it.

He alleged the HET also failed to investigate claims made by him that one of the killers had an English accent.

Mr Travers said when he later did an internet search, the name on the back of the watch matched that of a former unionist politician who was also a member of the UDR.

He said he is reluctant to name the politician publicly because he does not want to “blame someone in the wrong”.

“My complaint is about the non-investigation of this thing,” he said.

“I think people will make up their own minds as to who it belongs to.

“It certainly is a question I would like to have answered – why was it not investigated properly.”

Mr Travers claimed the HET also told him they did not to speak to anyone who shared the name engraved on the watch.

He said he has referred the matter to the Police Ombudsman.

A spokesman for the ombudsman last night said an “investigation is ongoing”.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy, who works with the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch, said: “This case was investigated and then reviewed by the HET.

“There were no outstanding lines of enquiry identified.”

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