Northern Ireland

Families of Belfast’s Lost Boys to launch legal bid and apply for new inquests

Missing boys David Leckey and Jonathan Aven who disappeared in Belfast in 1969 and have never been found (Alleycats Productions/PA)
Missing boys David Leckey and Jonathan Aven who disappeared in Belfast in 1969 and have never been found (Alleycats Productions/PA) Missing boys David Leckey and Jonathan Aven who disappeared in Belfast in 1969 and have never been found (Alleycats Productions/PA)

The families of Belfast’s ‘Lost Boys’ are set to launch legal action against the state.

David Leckey, 12, and Jonathan Aven, 14, from east Belfast went missing in 1969 and have never been found.

The dismembered remains of a third boy, Brian McDermott, 11, were recovered in 1973.

The story of the boys was the focus of a recent documentary by Alleycats Films titled The Lost Boys which raised questions about the investigation into the disappearances and potential cover-up.

The families of the boys have applied for a joint inquest, as well as a Police Ombudsman investigation into the police probe, and plan to take legal action against the state.

Owen Winters of KRW Law said they will issue high court civil proceedings against the state for “misfeasance, negligence and conspiracy over the cover-up”.

“It’s always a difficult undertaking when families try to turn the clock back and seek some long overdue justice for the loss of loved ones,” he said.

“That task is made all the more difficult when obstacles are placed in the way to try and prevent that happening.

“The documentary makes it glaringly obvious there was no attempt to link up all the cases in one themed investigation.

“We say that omission was deliberate and calculated to make sure there would never be a proper inquiry into what happened.

“We are making applications to the coroner for a conjoined inquest on all the cases. We will also file complaints with the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland over the systemic failures by police to investigate these missing body cases treated as connected murder inquiries.

“In addition we are issuing high court civil proceedings against the State for misfeasance, negligence and conspiracy over the cover-up.”

He added: “Over and above this we say there is now clearly a case for PSNI to start a thematic investigation into all the cases.

“As a starting point police would do well to engage immediately with the makers of the programme.

“Even though all the main suspect perpetrators are dead that doesn’t mean work shouldn’t start immediately. The passage of time ought not to prohibit a full-scale inquiry into the institutional failings which occurred here.

“The families of the missing boys and Brian McDermott are long overdue some semblance of justice.

“We call on all engaged state agencies to do the right thing and help them to get just that.”

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesperson said: “As the legal representatives have indicated they are initiating legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate for the Police Service of Northern Ireland to make any comment at this time.”