Northern Ireland

Inquest opens into UVF murder of Roseann Mallon

Roseann Mallon
Image caption Roseann Mallon was shot dead by the UVF in 1994

An inquest has opened into the murder of a 76-year-old woman by loyalist paramilitaries in 1994.

Roseann Mallon was shot dead in the living room of her sister-in-law's home by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

The murder is surrounded in controversy because it later emerged that the Army was conducting a surveillance operation on a nearby house owned by her nephew.

The inquest heard an Army surveillance camera was found close to the scene of the murder a few months later.

The pensioner was shot multiple times in her back, head and limbs when loyalist gunmen opened fire on the house at Cullenramer Road, near Dungannon, County Tyrone on 8 May 1994.

'Rapid death'

In the aftermath of the killing, the UVF said it had set out to target relations of Ms Mallon who it claimed were involved in the republican movement.

The pensioner, who suffered from arthritis, was staying with her sister-in-law at the time because she was afraid of being robbed.

The inquest was told that during the shooting, she suffered lacerations to her heart, lungs and intestines as well as four fractured ribs and died almost instantly.

In a statement read to the court, deputy state pathologist Dr John Press said: "The combined effect of these injuries would have been rapid death."

Martin Mallon, another of Roseann Mallon's nephews, told the hearing that she was a devout Catholic who loved photography and was a keen baker.

His aunt was loved by everyone in the community, both Protestants and Catholics, he said.

Night recording

In his evidence, he talked about an Army surveillance camera found close to the scene of the murder a few months later.

Image caption Roseann Mallon was shot dead in the living room of her sister-in-law's home

Ms Mallon's family asked at the time whether the unmanned camera may have recorded the murder.

The then investigating officer said the camera was of no value to the murder inquiry, as it was not capable of night recording.

That is something the Mallon family dispute. They asked a UTV cameraman to have a look at the camera for them.

It was his conclusion the camera had night vision and the capacity to zoom and film close-ups of the house.

Martin Mallon also told the inquest he had seen a green car scouting the area close to his mother's house earlier in the evening and said he believed that the camera could have recorded the identity of the driver.

Several other written statements were read to the inquest, including one from a doctor who carried out the post-mortem examination.

'No response'

It said Roseann Mallon had been shot from behind, through a window.

Statements from Paula Murray, the daughter of Roseann Mallon's sister-in-law Brigid, with whom she was staying, were also read out.

In it she said she was having a telephone conversation with her mother when a car drove up to the house where Ms Mallon was killed.

The evidence outlined how two men got out of a car and ran up the driveway.

Paula Murray had said: "I don't like it - get to safety."

The inquest heard how Roseann was not able to move quickly because of her arthritis.

In separate written evidence, Brigid Murray said Roseann muttered "oh dear" when she was shot.

The room was full of smoke, Ms Murray said. She said said Roseann gave a "couple of wee sighs and then there was no response".

'Anonymity'

The inquest was told that in the hours after the shooting, the former Loyalist Volunteer Force leader, Billy Wright, and two others known only as 'suspect four' and 'suspect six' were stopped in a car 15 or 20 miles away from the scene.

They were taken to Gough Barracks in County Armagh and questioned but, after refusing to answer questions, were released without charge several days later.

Three other men who were travelling in a Ford Sierra were also arrested after police saw items including masks and gloves being thrown from the vehicle, but no one was charged.

The non-jury inquest is expected to last three weeks.

A number of witnesses have applied for anonymity while others have applied to be screened from court proceedings.

Evidence from soldiers is expected to be heard next week.