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Kingsmills Massacre suspect ‘regularly travelled on minibus’ inquest is told

Thursday, 8 June 2017

ONE of the men named as a suspect in the Kingsmills Massacre regularly travelled on the work minibus, an inquest into the killings has heard.

The revelation emerged during questioning of a senior detective who led the investigation into the January 1976 murders of the 10 Protestant textile workers.

It has also been revealed a self-confessed IRA man supplied a list in December 1976, indicating the names of those involved in the attack.

During last Wednesday's inquest, Detective Chief Inspector James Mitchell was unable to confirm whether he had seen the list before, but he was able to identify all of those named as members of the Provisional IRA.

One of those named on the list was a man given the cypher 'S104', who a barrister for the families of the victims revealed "usually travelled" on the minibus.

According to the barrister, this could mean he was involved in setting up his workmates for slaughter.

The inquest also heard the investigation suffered a "significant loss" after items recovered from the scene at Kingsmills were either destroyed or not correctly tested.

Forensic expert Dr Ruth Griffin - who was not involved in the original investigations, but reviewed the case in May 2007 - revealed some of the items taken from the scene to be transferred to the forensics laboratory included live and spent bullet cartridges, soil and broken glass, as well as swabs taken from a van believed to have been the getaway vehicle.

In relation to a palm print which had been found at the scene, she said while a quantity of DNA had been recovered from the print, there was no profile due to the quality of the DNA found.

Alan Kane QC, acting for some of the Kingsmills families, queried the testing of the live bullets at the time, to which Dr Griffin told the court the forensic notes from the time showed the live bullets were sent straight to firearms examinations.

However, Mr Kane put it to the expert witness that this potential evidential opportunity had been lost due to the fact the ammunition had not been tested for fingerprints.

The inquest was also told a total of 31 swabs were taken from inside the suspected getaway van, which was discovered near Dundalk.

Whilst most of the swabs were taken from the front of the van, the remainder were taken from two rear seats, which Mr Kane suggested left a "huge volume" of area in the van which had not been swabbed.

It also transpired that two stands of hair recovered following the murders of five men at Tullyvallen Orange Hall in September 1975, are to be tested to establish whether they are connected to the scene of the Kingsmills atrocity.

During an investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team into Kingsmills, it was discovered a number of exhibits tested at the time no longer exist after they were destroyed in a fire, and there were no records or results kept of the destroyed items.

Also during last week's inquest a witness was accused of "sexing up" claims undercover British soldier Captain Robert Nairac was present at the Kingsmills Massacre.

Gerald Byrne, who was one of the first people at the scene, had in a statement to a victims' group in July 2013, linked Captain Nairac, a Grenadier Guardsman, as the man who stopped the minibus.

The construction company owner from South Armagh, revealed his partner - who refused to give direct evidence to the inquest - obtained the details from a member of the security forces, to whom she had been previously married.

However, Peter Coll QC, representing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) refuted the suggestion and said records show that Captain Nairac was not in Northern Ireland at the time of the Kingsmills killings.

Speaking after a long week of the Kingsmills inquest, South Armagh victims campaigner Willie Frazer said the families are "delighted" a lot of rumours have now been cleared up and removed, which now means the focus can be on the facts of what happened that fateful night.

"We can now say with absolute confidence that the myths and misinformation surrounding the involvement of Captain Robert Nairac have firmly been put to bed," Mr Frazer said.

"We have now proven beyond doubt that the murders at Kingsmills were pre-planned at least two months in advance.

"This relays any rumours that the Kingsmills Massacre was in retaliation for the murder of Catholics carried out by Loyalists from Belfast.

"We have heard evidence this week that suggests the RUC investigation into the attack wasn't entirely effective and as efficient as it should have been - these are matters which we are currently following up with the Police Ombudsman.

"The families again voiced their frustration on the lack of co-operation by the Irish Government.

"We are however assured by the fact the coroner has stated he will not consider the inquest concluded until the Irish Government provide all historical documents of use to this inquest.

"We are focused on ensuring those responsible are held to account," added Mr Frazer.

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