Families question delays in charging 'Stakeknife'

Frank Mulhern, father of Joseph Mulhern who was shot by the IRA in July 1993. Picture Mal McCann 
Frank Mulhern, father of Joseph Mulhern who was shot by the IRA in July 1993. Picture Mal McCann 

THE father of a man murdered by the military agent known as Stakeknife has questioned why he still hasn't been charged despite more than 20 statements by victim's families implicating the IRA man in numerous murders .

Joseph Mulhern was shot dead in 1993, found face down with his hands tied behind his back on a rural road in Co Tyrone just yards from the border. Prior to the discovery of the 22-year-old's body he had been missing for 10 days.

The IRA alleged at the time that he was an informer.

His father Frank said he was told how his son was killed during a conversation with the IRA agent known as Stakeknife. Mr Mulhern said the conversation included details only someone directly involved in the murder could have known.

Freddie Scappaticci fled Northern Ireland in 2003 after being unmasked as the most high-ranking mole within the IRA, described by former British army General Sir John Wilsey as the 'golden egg' of the intelligence services.

In October last year Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory called for an independent police investigation into the activities of the agent known at Stakeknife, thought to be Scappaticci, this was as a result of the findings of an investigation carried out by the Police Ombudsman.

In November the PSNI said officers would be recruited from outside police forces to carry out the investigation which could cost up to £50 million and take several years to complete, the exact make up of the investigation team has yet to be made public.

The Irish News understands that while Scappaticci, who is living in England under an assumed identity, has been spoken to by officers he has yet to be charged in relation to any offence.

While he is to be initially investigated for his alleged role in 24 murders it is believed that figure could as much as double.

The Irish News understands more than 20 statements implicating Stakeknife in involvement in murder during his time at the head of the IRA's 'internal security unit' known as the nutting squad have been made by family members.

Among those four statements from families who say they met with Stakeknife and were given face to face information about how their loved one was murdered.

"Freddie Scappaticci/Stakeknife whatever you want to call him told me how my son was killed, how many times he was shot, details that only someone who was directly involved could have known", said Mr Mulhern.

"I've since learned I wasn't the only one, he made a habit of telling families details of how people had died.

"I've made a statement detailing all of this and I know police have upwards of 20 statements and at least three others have given similar statements to me, that Scappaticci told them details of what happened to their family member.

"So what I cannot understand is why he hasn't been arrested and charged.

"We are told that this is a lengthy investigation that could take years, but why when the information is all there?

"We're talking about a serial killer, a man accused of multiple murders. If anyone else was accused of what he has been accused of, with the evidence and statements there to back it up they'd be in jail on remand charged with murder", Mr Mulhern added.

Kevin Winters who represents a number of families, including that of Caroline Moreland (34) mother-of-three who was abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1994 amid accusations she was an informer, said the families are understandably frustrated at the pace of progress.

"We will be back in the High Court in February as part of the challenge taken by the family of Caroline Moreland at which time we expect details of what steps have been taken to resource a fully independent investigation", Mr Winters said.

A spokesman for the PSNI said: "The PSNI are continuing to consider a number of potential options to respond effectively to a referral from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"There have been a number of discussions to date and this work is continuing.

"Any decision to conduct an investigation will require sustainable funding and resources to be identified," the spokesman added.