Northern Ireland

Concerns raised after PPS fail to direct PSNI to reopen UVF killing case

Brian Frizzell
Brian Frizzell

PROSECUTORS have said they will not order police to reopen an investigation linked to the murder of three Catholics killed by the UVF almost 30 years ago.

Brian Frizzell (29) Eileen Duffy (19) and Katrina Rennie (16) were shot dead at a mobile shop in the Drumbeg estate in Craigavon in 1991.

Portadown loyalist Alan Oliver was later identified as the gunman but has never been charged.

The born again Christian has also been linked to a UVF gang which carried out dozens of sectarian murders in the Mid Ulster area.

Loyalist James Thomas Harper was later convicted for his part in the triple murder and given a life sentence.

During police interrogation he identified Oliver as the killer and another loyalist Anthony ‘Tony’ McNeill as also being involved.

He also claimed that former UVF commander Billy Wright and Mark ‘Swinger' Fulton, another member of the organisation, were both involved in planning the attack.

At Harper’s sentencing Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Hutton said it was “unfortunate” that only he was before the courts.

In 2018 the Public Prosecution Service confirmed that "no investigation file in respect of Oliver or McNeill was ever submitted to the DPP (Department of Public Prosecutions) for a decision as to prosecution regarding this incident”.

Last year solicitors acting for Brian Frizzell's family asked the PPS to review the killings with a view to directing the PSNI to reopen the case.

The request came after BBC Spotlight broadcast fresh claims about the UVF in Mid Ulster last year.

Solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said: “The failure by the RUC to send a file on a leading suspect to the DPP was bad enough.

“The latest letter from the PPS points to an ongoing lock down on investigating this case by the PSNI.

“It's distressing to the affected families to learn that 'resources' prevents any sort of prioritisation in an atrocity crying out for immediate investigation now.”

A spokesman for the PPS said “Whilst the Director recognises the enduring pain and distress that the family experience, he concluded that it would not be appropriate for the PPS to conduct a review of the case or for him to exercise his statutory power under the 2002 act.

“This is because it is the role of police, and not the PPS, to review cases for potential evidential opportunities.

“Furthermore, the director was made aware of an ongoing police review relevant to this case and also of the fact that this death presently sits within the work queue of the PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch. The PPS will provide such prosecutorial advice to the PSNI and will assist with any of their enquiries.”