Sean Brown murder: Inquest postponed indefinitely

Car where Mr Brown's body was found Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Mr Brown's body was found in a burned out car

The inquest into the death of a man murdered by loyalists has been postponed indefinitely.

Sean Brown was abducted and killed in Bellaghy, County Londonderry, in 1997.

The Northern Ireland Court Service said the main reason for the inquest being postponed was the issue of disclosure of documents.

In January, it emerged that classified material deemed relevant for the inquest had been lost.

It also emerged that redactions, including the blanking out of names, on 34 folders of non-sensitive material had not been completed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland's chief Constable denied a claim by the SDLP that police were protecting the murderers of Mr Brown, a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) official.

MLA and Policing Board member Dolores Kelly had claimed Mr Brown's killers were being protected because they were "state agents" or informers.

Chief Constable George Hamilton said "no-one is above the law".

'Angry'

Paul O'Connor, from the Pat Finucane Centre said the family is very angry.

"They're very, very frustrated and very angry. They feel this is not moving at all and that nothing has been disclosed to date despite assurances to the contrary.

"This is the 24th preliminary hearing we've attended since 2007 and what happened today was that the only draft document that was forthcoming was the draft HET report on the case.

"Council for the PSNI confirmed that they were still unable to furnish dozens and dozens of both sensitive and non-sensitive files relating to this case, which means they've effectively supplied no documentation whatsoever," he said.

"In that context it was agreed that the planned date for the full inquest to go ahead, which was in March, could no longer be met and therefore was being postponed indefinitely."

Mr O'Connor said the Brown family have called on members of the Policing Board in the Magherafelt area to boycott their next meeting in protest.

In a statement, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said it had given a total of 34 folders of material to the coroner and was working to answer his queries.

" Regrettably, there is insufficient time within which to answer the queries and thereafter to make any necessary amendments prior to the March hearing date.

"PSNI regret the delay and the additional pain that this causes to the Brown family. The legal team will continue to do its best to respond to the coroner as efficiently and effectively as possible.

"PSNI are currently managing disclosure across up to 60 legacy inquests at a time of a significantly reducing police budget.

"PSNI have proposed that prioritisation by the court of provision of disclosure to the inquests would assist by allowing the PSNI to deploy the resources it currently has working on disclosure with the greatest degree of efficiency."