Northern Ireland news

PSNI has information that would 'shed some light' on Gerard Hampson death

Gerard Hampson's body was found on the shores of Lough Neagh in 2008
Connla Young

A CORONER has said that he believes the PSNI holds information that might “shed some light” on the death of a man whose naked body was found on the shores of Lough Neagh.

Joe McCrisken was speaking at a preliminary inquest hearing into the death of Derry man Gerard Hampson.

His remains were washed up near Toome in January 2008, several weeks after he went missing.

During a preliminary inquest hearing in Belfast yesterday it emerged that ‘public interest immunity’ may be sought in relation to some of the information held by police.

If granted sensitive information can be withheld if deemed to be damaging to the public interest.

At the time he went missing the 53-year-old was wanted for questioning by police in connection with a double abduction in Co Westmeath and shooting in Derry in 2007.

Coroner Joe McCrisken

A brother-in-law of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Marvin Canning, was charged in connection with the episode but the prosecution was later dropped.

Mr Hampson was a former republican prisoner who served a sentence for IRA activities and was connected to the anti-agreement 32-County Sovereignty Movement.

In 2016 a Police Ombudsman’s report revealed a catalogue of failures by PSNI officers investigating the case.

Eight officers were later disciplined.

A lawyer for the PSNI told coroner Mr McCrisken there was a “significant volume of papers and the chief constable would have to go through that line by line”.

In an unusual move the coroner was questioned directly about the case by a member of Mr Hampson’s family.

The corner told relatives “you have been kept in the dark about a lot of this” later adding “your own solicitors are even placed in the dark”.

“We have some material and I have to be careful what I say about this, I promise you (it) will become clear,” he said.

He added that “there is information that might shed some light on what happened Mr Hampson”.

“This is by far the most complicated information process I have been involved in as a coroner,” he added.

In an exchange with the coroner the family’s barrister Paul Foster highlighted his clients' continued frustration at delays.

Mr McCrisken said: "The problem you and the family have is because you are not in the loop, it’s not easy to explain what’s going on".

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