Northern Ireland news

Police apologise for describing killing of Michael Leonard as 'murder'

Michael Leonard was shot dead by an RUC officer in 1973

Police have apologised to the family of Michael Leonard after "inaccurately" describing his shooting by the RUC as a "murder".

In a statement last night, a police spokeswoman said: "To describe the death of Michael Leonard as a murder in our response to The Irish News was regrettably inaccurate as his case has not yet been reviewed or reinvestigated by our Legacy Investigation Branch. We apologise to the family for any hurt this may have caused to them and will be contacting them to offer to meet them and apologise in person.

"We are aware that a complaint has been made to PONI regarding Michael’s death and we do not intend to comment further at this time."

Mr Leonard (24), a disqualified driver, was shot dead by an RUC officer in 1973 after a car chase on the Donegal/Fermanagh border. An RUC inspector claimed at the initial inquest that a policeman who held a rifle out of the passenger side of a pursing Land Rover "accidentally snatched the trigger and discharged a round." However, recently discovered logs reveal that three shots were fired.

In statement to the Irish News last Thursday, police said: "His (Mr Leonard's) murder is within the caseload of the Legacy Investigation Branch."

When asked by the Irish News on Friday to confirm that Mr Leonard's death was now being treated as murder, the PSNI said it was.

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