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Weapons may have been moved before discovery

Tommy Casey was killed and his wife Cathleen injured by the UVF in 1990
Connla Young

A suspected loyalist arms cache found in a rural part of Co Tyrone earlier this year may have been unwittingly moved from another location before its discovery, it has been claimed.

Fresh questions have now been asked about the find in the mainly unionist Tullyveagh Road area, near Cookstown, in April.

At the time police said "firearms and a quantity of ammunition" were found and confirmed a handgun was among the haul.

Last night the son of a Catholic pensioner murdered by the UVF said he needed further information about the suspected loyalist arms find.

Tommy Casey (67), who was a member of Sinn Féin, was shot dead at the home of a friend at near Cookstown in October 1990.

His wife Cathleen was injured in the gun attack. She died several years later and her anniversary takes place this weekend.

The Casey family believe there was collusion between members of the RUC, UDR and UVF in the attack on their parents.

A Historical Enquiries Team report recently given to the family revealed that four UDR members were questioned about Mr Casey's murder.

Sources say the April find was originally part of a loyalist weapons dump hidden in barrel which had been buried in a field a short distance from Tullyveagh Road.

It is understood the barrel was mistaken for a large stone and later transported a short distance to be used in a building project. At this point it was discovered that the stone was in fact a barrel covered in earth. Inside weapons were found and the PSNI were called.

The PSNI has refused to confirm how many guns or what type of weapons were recovered.

In April Detective Inspector Will Tate said: "The condition of the items and other evidence gathered at the scene would suggest they have been buried at that location for many years."

It has previously been reported that the items were contained in a blue barrel.

This type of barrel, known as an 'apple barrel' was regularly used by paramilitary groups to hide weapons underground during the Troubles.

While one of the guns used to kill Mr Casey was recovered another, a .455 revolver, has never been found.

Mr Casey's car, which was used by the killers to flee, was found dumped several miles from the murder scene and, in what some see as a symbolic act, close to where UDR man Raymond McNicol was shot dead by the IRA in 1988.

Mr Casey's son Conor last night called on authorities to release details of the find.

"It is absolutely vital we are told what is in this find. We want to know the number of weapons found and their calibre,” he said.

Details of the find come just weeks after a suspect in Mr Casey's killing was linked to three other murders in east Tyrone and south Derry including that of former Sinn Féin councillor Bernard O'Hagan in Magherafelt in September 1991.

Mr O'Hagan's brother John last night said his family also wants “the truth”.

“We want to know what sort of guns they were and where they were used,” he said.

A spokesman for the PSNI said: “In relation to the items found, these have been sent for forensic examination and until these tests have been completed it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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