Northern Ireland

Family of murdered Catholic man take legal action against PSNI and MoD

Joe Toman was one of three men shot in Bleary, Co Armagh, in April 1975
Joe Toman was one of three men shot in Bleary, Co Armagh, in April 1975

THE daughter of a Co Armagh man killed by the Glenanne Gang is set to sue the PSNI and Ministry of Defence.

Joe Toman (48) was shot dead along with John Feeney (45) and Brendan O’Hara (38) at Bleary Darts Club near Portadown in April 1975.

The Glenanne gang included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF and was responsible for a sectarian murder campaign in the mid-1970s.

A father-of-six, Mr Toman died shortly after being wounded in the head.

His daughter Christine Toman has now launched legal proceedings against police and the MoD.

It is believed notorious loyalist Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson took part in the attack at the mainly Catholic darts club.

At least three guns were used after the gunmen kicked the front door open.

One of the weapons, a police-issue Sterling sub machine gun, was later used in the Miami Showband attack in July 1975, which resulted in the deaths of five people, including two UVF members.

The weapon was originally held at an RUC central store before being transferred to the Ulster Special Constabulary and stolen in 1970.

Solicitors for the family say that while the connection between the Bleary and the Miami Showband attacks would have been known to RUC investigators, the two incidents were not linked.

The Historical Enquiries Team investigated the Bleary attack in 2011 and based on the evidence uncovered placed it among the Glenanne series of murders - which is believed to total around 120 people, the majority of them innocent Catholics.

Eoin Murphy of Ó Muirigh Solicitors said “there remain significant issues surrounding the investigation of this murder”.

“The provenance of the sub-machine gun, the background of those convicted of offences linked by ballistic intelligence and the evidence of infiltration of the UDR by UVF members in other cases within the Glenanne series should all have been apparent to the investigating forces,” he said.

“The family believe that only through these civil proceedings can the full facts concerning their father’s death be brought to light and that culpable and discreditable conduct by the police and the Ministry of Defence be exposed.”