Four UDR members arrested following sectarian killing

Loyalist murder victim Tommy Casey and his wife Cathleen
Connla Young

FOUR members of the UDR were arrested and questioned in relation to the murder of a Catholic man in Co Tyrone almost 30 years ago, it has emerged.

Tommy Casey (57) was shot dead by the UVF at the home of a friend near Cookstown in October 1990.

The Casey family believe there was collusion between members of the RUC, UDR and UVF in his brutal murder.

An Historical Enquiries Team report recently handed to his family confirms that four members of the UDR were questioned about the killing.

In recent years it has emerged that members of the regiment were also questioned about other murders in the Mid-Ulster area carried out around this time.

The father-of-11, who was shot as he visited a friend’s house unannounced while his wife Cathleen sat in a nearby car, may not have been the intended target but was shot after the killers recognised him, the report says.

Mrs Casey was also wounded.

In the weeks leading up to the attack, Mr Casey’s own home at Kildress, near Cookstown, was sprayed with gunfire by loyalists.

It has emerged that the RUC believed the actual target may have been a former republican prisoner, Sean Anderson, who regularly visited his girlfriend at the house.

He was shot dead almost a year later while making a regular trip to the house.

Two days before the murder of Mr Casey, a woman who lived in the house was awoken in the early hours of the morning by a noise on her roof.

On looking outside she saw two figures climbing off a low level roof at the back of the property.

Mr Casey’s family believe these men may have been British soldiers who were carrying out surveillance on the house, which was frequented by republicans.

They believe there was collusion in the case and suspect that their father may have been murdered by members of the UDR.

The fact that the killers did not bring a getaway car but instead used the victim’s own vehicle to escape has further fuelled suspicion of security force involvement.

It is unusual for people involved in paramilitary activity not to provide their own means of escape.

Mr Casey’s car was later found abandoned in a loyalist area around three miles from the murder scene.

The HET report reveals that an intelligence report compiled after the murder indicated that three named men, all members of the UDR, were suspected to be involved.

These three men plus two others, including another UDR man, were arrested in December 1991 but released without charge.

It was also revealed that between 1991 and 1993 the RUC investigated links between the Portadown UFF, UVF and UDR.

The HET said that intelligence received in 2002 again indicated “the involvement of the original three suspects” in the Casey murder.

The RUC later said that documents gathered at this time were destroyed as a result of asbestos contamination at Gough Barracks in Armagh in 1998.

It has also emerged that a local man claimed to see five RUC cars and overheard a conversation on his carphone on the night of the shooting including the remark “There’s fog in Moveagh, the roads are clear, do a good job tonight boys”.

According to the HET report, officers were tasked to speak to the man but he was not at home when they called on several occasions.

A VZ58 automatic rifle used in the attack has been linked to 17 murders across east Tyrone and north Armagh between 1988 and 1994.

The Czech-made gun, which was part of a batch smuggled into the north with the help of British military intelligence, was recovered after three men were arrested in Loughgall, Co Armagh in May 1993.

A second weapon, a US-made Colt .455, has never been recovered and is not believed to have been used in any other murders in the Mid-Ulster area.

Solicitor Niall Murphy, who represents the Casey family, claimed the report confirms the family’s belief that there was collusion.

“Missing forensics, the possibility of surveillance and the killers having the confidence to turn up to commit murder in a remote area without a getaway vehicle, all points to a familiar impunity afforded in the Mid Ulster area at this time,” he said.

”The report also provides the Casey family with confidence that the killers will be brought to justice.

“UDR men were suspected and were arrested for this murder and there is a renewed confidence that fresh information will emerge that will now result in prosecutions.”

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