Former RUC officers face Derry false statement charges

DERRY Bishop's Street Court house
Image caption The two former detectives appeared at Londonderry Magistrates' Court

Two former RUC detectives have appeared in court accused of perverting the course of justice by falsifying statements during the late 1970s.

Some of the charges are linked to the investigation into the murder of a soldier who was shot by an IRA sniper in Londonderry.

John McGahan, 71, appeared at Londonderry Magistrates' Court on Friday.

The second defendant was 64-year-old Philip Noel Thomson.

Mr McGahan has been charged that between 27 February and 2 March 1979 he recorded a written statement after caution from Gerald Kieran McGowan which was not Mr McGowan's independent account of his involvement in the murder of 22-year-old Lieutenant Stephen Andrew Kirby.

Lieutenant Kirby was an officer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who was shot by an IRA sniper when he was on foot patrol in the Abercorn Road area of Derry on 14 Februrary 1979.

Mr Thomson has been charged with recording a written statement after caution from Mr McGowan which was not Mr McGowan's independent account of his involvement in a separate shooting, that of Noel Ronald Smith also between 27 February and 2 March 1979.

Mr McGowan is one of the so-called Derry four. He along with Gerry Kelly, Michael Toner and Stephen Crumlish, all of them from the Creggan area of the city, fled across the border when they were released on bail in 1979 wrongly accused of Lieutenant Kirby's murder.

They were all teenagers at the time and they remained outside of Northern Ireland for over 20 years before they were acquitted of the murder charges and other offences in 1998.

They lived openly in the Republic of Ireland and during that time no extradition proceedings were ever taken against them.

During the hearing both defendants stood side by side in the dock before deputy district judge Chris Holmes.

When asked if they had anything to say in answer to the charge, both answered no.

The deputy district judge said as there was no contrary submission from the defendants barrister he was returning both men to the crown court in Belfast for their arraignment on the two charges on 26 September.

Mr Holmes released the defendants each on their own bail of £500 until that date.

Related Topics