Northern Ireland

County Armagh: Police Scotland to investigate 1982 hayshed shooting

Shooting scene Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Martin McCauley was seriously wounded and a teenager killed when police opened fire on a hayshed in 1982

Police Scotland will investigate former security members over destroyed evidence in a so-called shoot-to-kill operation in County Armagh in 1982.

Michael Tighe, 17, was shot dead and 19-year-old Martin McCauley was seriously injured when RUC officers opened fire on a hayshed at Ballynerry Road North, Lurgan.

It emerged that MI5 had a listening device hidden inside the hayshed.

The tape was destroyed by the RUC 24 hours after the shooting.

The information did not come to light until many years later.

'Surveillance evidence'

A copy made by MI5, which also recorded what happened, was destroyed two and a half years later.

Mr McCauley was later convicted of possession of three antique rifles found inside the hayshed. His conviction was subsequently quashed.

Image caption Two audio recordings were made during the surveillance operation at the hayshed

In January 2015, The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory QC, had asked the PSNI and the Police Ombudsman to investigate the actions of the former RUC officers and security service personnel who were involved.

In a statement issued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland on Wednesday, it was confirmed Police Scotland would investigate "the actions of security service personnel in relation to the withholding, concealment and destruction of surveillance evidence concerning an operation at a hayshed at Ballynerry Road North, Lurgan on November 24 1982".

'Public confidence'

ACC Mark Hamilton said: "This follows a referral under Section 35(5) of the Justice Act 2002 from the Director of Public Prosecutions in January 2015 requesting that the chief constable undertook an investigation into this.

"In the interests of transparency and public confidence, the chief constable decided that the police investigation should be conducted by an external police service and asked Her Majesty's Chief Inspectorate to identify a service to undertake the investigation on behalf of the PSNI," ACC Hamilton said.

Police Scotland will conduct the investigation in relation to the actions of individuals who are not police officers. The police ombudsman for Northern Ireland will carry out an investigation in relation to the conduct of a number of former RUC officers involved in the same investigation.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the chief officer will then report to the chief constable for onward transmission to the director of public prosecutions.

"Any matters which come to the attention of the Police Scotland investigation team which indicate, or appear to indicate, any sort of criminality or misconduct by current or former police officers will be referred to Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland," ACC Hamilton added.

SDLP Deputy Leader Dolores Kelly welcomed the announcement that Police Scotland would be conducting the investigation.

"The chief constable has made a clear and correct decision in trying to establish transparency in the Michael Tighe and Martin McCauley case," she added.

"The move to involve Police Scotland is an important step in assuring the independence and impartiality of the ongoing investigation."

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