Northern Ireland news

Former RUC officer referred to PPS in connection with murder of Reavey brothers

Brian (22), John Martin (24) and Anthony Reavey (17) were shot in their home by a loyalist gang in 1976. The two older brothers died at the scene while Anthony died weeks later 
Connla Young

The Police Ombudsman has sent a file on a former RUC officer to the Public Prosecution Service for potential offences including the murders of the three Catholic Reavey brothers in south Armagh 45 years ago.

John Martin (24), Brian (22) and 17-year-old Anthony Reavey were shot in their Whitecross home by members of the notorious Glenanne Gang in January 1976. The three brothers had been watching television and while John Martin and Brian were killed in the sectarian gun attack, younger brother Anthony died several weeks later. The loyalist gang, which is believed to have killed around 120 people, included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF.

It is understood the file was sent to the PPS after new evidence came to light in recent months.

The Reavey attack took place during one of the bloodiest weeks in the Troubles. Within minutes of the shooting three members of the O'Dowd family were also gunned down by the same gang near Gilford in Co Down.

The Police Ombudsman confirmed that a file has now been forwarded to prosecutors.

"The Police Ombudsman’s Office has submitted a prosecutorial advice file to the Public Prosecution Service in relation to potential offences by a former RUC officer in the 1970s," the ombudsman's office said in a statement.

"The potential offences include the murders of brothers John, Anthony and Brian Reavey at Whitecross, Co Armagh in 1976."

The victims' brother, Eugene Reavey, said the development was "a major breakthrough for me and my family".

"When they told me they had received fresh evidence, and that they would be referring the matter for prosecution, I couldn’t believe it," he said.

"I promised my father that I would continue the fight for justice for John Martin, Brian and Anthony and today I believe we are a step closer to that."

Mr Reavey said his family has waited a long time for the development.

"It is regrettable that the police did not do their job sooner," he said. "This is 46 years in the making. I told them 40 years ago who murdered my brothers and they never gave me any heed. I now look forward to seeing those responsible in court and held to account for their actions.”

Solicitor Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, said: "For over four and a half decades the Reavey family have pursued a dignified and admirable campaign for justice which at times seen certain corners vilifying Eugene Reavey."

"Today exonerates our client’s campaign for justice which has exposed the state sponsored Glenanne gang,” he added.

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Eugene Reavey

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