Six weeks to detail return of seized items into Kerr investigation

POLICE investigating the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr have been given six weeks to timetable the return of items seized during searches in Coalisland last year.

They include two family cars, digital televisions, four computers, as well as clothes and mobile phones belonging to four males.

They were taken from a house on the Washing Bay Road area in July 2011 during a large scale operation into the rookie constable’s murder.

The operation stretched across South Derry and Tyrone and a number of arrests were made at the time.

One of those questioned was Brian Campbell, of Washing Bay Road, who was later released unconditionally.

He has sought legal action for the property to be returned from the PSNI.

A solicitor acting on his behalf told Dungannon Magistrates Court said that Mr Campbell was not in the jurisdiction at the time of the murder, and was arrested during searches of his home, and a nearby garage in the following July.

A police constable questioned at Friday’s court sitting told Deputy District Judge Archer that the items were among “thousands” seized since the Omagh policeman’s murder in April 2011, and that no timescale of return could be given as the investigation continued.

He said the items remained in the PSNI’s forensic examination unit.

Adjourning the matter until September 7th, the Deputy District Judge asked that a timetable on the return of Mr Campbell’s items should be sought from the PSNI.

“It does not have to be precise,” the judge added.

The operation in which Mr Campbell was arrested received widespread criticism from local representatives, including the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness last year.

Speaking to the media following Mr Campbell’s arrest, Mr McGuinness said: “Nobody who knows this young man and his family are in any doubt that he has no link whatsoever to the murder of Ronan Kerr.

“The nature of the operation has caused widespread anger in the local community. That is a reality the PSNI will now have to face.

“Bad policing operations in republican communities will do nothing to bring his killers to justice. Indeed if anything the opposite is the case.”

PSNI officer Ronan Kerr was killed when a booby-trap bomb exploded on his car outside his Killyclogher home on 2 April 2011.

Dissident republicans later claimed responsibility for the attack. No one has ever been charged with the 25 year-old’s murder.