Northern Ireland

Several key suspects in Sean Brown murder believed to be state agents

Murdered GAA official Sean Brown
Murdered GAA official Sean Brown

Several loyalists suspected of being involved in the murder of Sean Brown are believed to have been state agents.

In 2017, members of the LVF gang thought to be responsible were named in a writ lodged with the High Court by lawyers acting for Mr Brown’s elderly widow Bridie as part of a civil case against former chief constable George Hamilton and the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Brown (61) was attacked and beaten by LVF members as he locked the gates at Bellaghy Wolfe Tones GAC in May 1997.

Read More: Family of Sean Brown say treatment at hands of state agencies 'cruel, inhumane and degrading'

MI5 attempt to withhold information from Sean Brown inquest

He was put in the boot of his own car and taken to a country lane outside Randalstown in Co Antrim where he was shot six times.

Murdered GAA official Sean Brown
Murdered GAA official Sean Brown

A father-of-six, Mr Brown was well known in south Derry as a dedicated family man and chairman of his local Gaelic club.

Collusion is suspected and no-one has ever been charged in connection with his murder.

The LVF was established in 1996 after notorious loyalist Billy Wright was expelled from the UVF.

During an inquest hearing into the murder on Thursday it emerged that the PSNI has taken the view that an inquest is not an “appropriate vehicle” for continuing the investigation into Mr Brown’s death.

A coroner heard that recent correspondence from the Crown Solicitor’s Office stated that during recent “disclosure work” linked to the case the PSNI “encountered issues arising from what can broadly be described as intelligence coverage”.

During the hearing, Des Fahy KC, acting for the family, said there is a suspicion that informers are being protected.

“The expression that is used in the letter…is ‘intelligence coverage’, I am wholly at a loss as to what that means,” he told coroner Patrick Kinney.

“But doing our best on behalf of the Brown family we believe that relates directly to the activities and protection of state agents and informers.

“And if that is so that is an issue of fundamental importance to the ability of this inquest to be conducted in a manner which is compliant with Article Two (of the European Court of Human Rights) which protects the right to life.”

Mark 'Swinger' Fulton
Mark 'Swinger' Fulton

The key suspects named in 2017 included Wright’s close friend and one-time leading LVF member Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton.

He is thought to have taken his own life Maghaberry Prison in 2002.

Another Portadown-based loyalist, Muriel Gibson, was also named in court papers.

She received an eight-year sentence in 2007 for LVF membership and destroying evidence following the murder of 28-year-old Catholic man Adrian Lamph in Portadown in 1998.

Laurence ‘Duffer’ Kincaid
Laurence ‘Duffer’ Kincaid

Half-brothers, who share the same name, Laurence ‘Duffer’ Kincaid and Laurence ‘Larry’ Kincaid were also named as suspects while another loyalist, Roy Stewart, was also identified.

Mid-Ulster loyalist, Jim Fulton, a brother of Swinger Fulton, was also referred to in the court documents, although he was not listed as a suspect.

It was alleged that he and his brother were given “documentation and assistance from the Ministry of Defence and MI5 to aid them in the LVF targeting” of nationalists.

He was convicted in 2007 for his part in the murder of Elizabeth O’Neill (59) in Portadown in 1999 and a range of other LVF linked charges.

A Protestant married to a Catholic, Ms O’Neill died after a pipe bomb was thrown through the living room window of her home.

At the time, legal documents claimed the gun used to kill Mr Brown has also been used in several other murders in the Mid-Ulster area.

It was also alleged that "CID investigation of the murder was hampered by the failures of RUC Special Branch to pass information on to the investigating detectives, in so far at a very early stage of the murder investigation, RUC Special Branch were aware of the identities of those involved in the murder".

The document added that "the court will be invited to infer that the defendants encouraged and/or knew of the Mid Ulster LVFs activities, which included murder and serious related offenses of terrorism, and then facilitated and/or tolerated it by acts/or omissions which conferred impunity upon the certain members of the LVF bother before and after the murder of the deceased".

NIO minister Steve Baker
NIO minister Steve Baker

Earlier this month it emerged that a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) minister, understood to be Steve Baker, issued a Public Immunity Interest (PII) certificate in relation to material provided by The Security Service, which is also known as MI5.

PII certificates are used by state agencies to conceal information they don't want placed in the public domain.