Roseann Mallon inquest: Special Branch 'could have tampered with gun'
Special Branch could have tampered with the weapon used to murder a County Tyrone pensioner in 1994, an inquest has heard.
Roseann Mallon, 76, was killed by UVF gunmen. The long-awaited inquest into her murder resumed on Tuesday.
A forensic scientist said Special Branch experts, who examined cartridges recovered from the scene, reported that the weapon used had no prior history.
However, he said it had actually been used in eight previous killings.
Miss Mallon was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries as she watched television at her sister's house on the outskirts of Dungannon.
Shortly after her murder, Army spying equipment was found in a nearby field, prompting claims of security force collusion.
A barrister for the Mallon family asked the scientist if there was scope for Special Branch to tamper with the evidence.
"Is it not obvious that if material could be sent to a Special Branch department before civilian forensic scientists, there is scope for material to be tampered with," he said.
The scientist replied: "It isn't for me to say - I would expect them to do the same work we do."
Another forensic scientist told the inquest that the firing pin of the gun used had been cleaned with an abrasive material, in what could have been a deliberate attempt to hinder the identification process.
"It looked as if somebody had taken the firing pin and abraded it... with sandpaper," he said.
"It could have been part of a cleaning regime or possibly to make it look like it came from a different weapon".
The hearing continues.