Northern Ireland news

Jailed Co Tyrone man later left in wheelchair by loyalists claims he has been 'victimised twice'

Christy Cummings, pictured with his son Rory, believes he has been 'victimised twice' after claiming he was wrongly jailed 40 years ago and then paralysed in a loyalist gun attack. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Connla Young

A CO Tyrone man who claims he was wrongly jailed 40 years ago and later paralysed in a loyalist gun attack believes he has been 'victimised twice'.

Cookstown man Christy Cummings served almost seven years behind bars for an offence he says he did not commit.

Eleven years after his release he was shot and paralysed in a LVF gun attack believed to involve collusion.

The 62-year-old has been confined to a wheelchair since the LVF opened fire outside the Glengannon Hotel, near Dungannon, in December 1997.

Another man, Seamus Dillon, was killed in the attack, which took place on the same day as LVF leader Billy Wright was shot dead by the INLA inside the H-Blocks.

A suspected observation hide found near the hotel is believed to have been used by the British army.

Mr Cummings said on the night of the attack he felt uneasy while standing outside the hotel.

“There was something not right when the lights were all out in the carpark, which never happened before,” he said.

Since the shooting he has struggled with his injuries.

“The quality of life has been bad, he said.

“Simple things - I just can’t do.”

He also suffers from (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and flashbacks.

“I’m still living with it, it will never go away,” he said.

“It’s a fresh now as it was then.”

Mr Cummings served almost seven years in jail between 1979 and 1986 after he was convicted of IRA membership and causing a hoax bomb alert.

He has always denied the charges and says he made no admissions during RUC interrogation.

At the time of his arrest his wife was pregnant with the couple’s first child.

His case was recently referred to the Criminal Case Review Commission.

Mr Cummings claimed last night that “the state has victimised me twice”.

His son Rory said his father’s imprisonment and injuries has had a major impact on him.

“The first six or seven years of my life I grew up without a father figure,” he said.

“My childhood memories are travelling to a prison on a bus.

“One of my happiest days was daddy lifting me from school when he got out.”

His solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said that “most people who have been guilty of something would rarely embark on a campaign to clear their name.

“The fact that Christy is trying this is a strong indicator of his credibility and integrity on this issue," he said.

“It says a lot when a man is fighting to clear his name.”

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