Gun used in Dungannon door man murder linked to other killings

Seamus Dillon
Seamus Dillon

A gun used in the murder of a hotel doorman almost 20 years ago has been linked to other terrorist atrocities, a coroner’s court has heard.

A barrister representing the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) told a preliminary inquest that forensic tests had been carried out on the weapon used in the loyalist shooting of Seamus Patrick Dillon in December 1997.

Martin Wolf said: “The weapon used in the killing of Mr Dillon was, by a process of ballistics tests, established as being linked to other terrorist atrocities.”

Mr Dillon, 45, a former paramilitary prisoner and father-of-three from Stewartstown, Co Tyrone, was killed hours after Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) leader Billy Wright was gunned down inside the Maze prison and was seen as a revenge strike by the loyalist’s associates.

An inquest into Mr Dillon’s death has been scheduled to start on November 10 and will not be heard in front of a jury.

Northern Ireland’s senior coroner, John Leckey, said his decision to sit alone had been “reinforced” by the direction of High Court judge Mr Justice Stevens in a previous case.

“I want to sit without a jury,” the coroner told Belfast’s Old Town Hall.

Earlier, lawyer David Heraghty representing Mr Dillon’s widow, Martina, said she did not wish to have a jury.

Solicitor Aiden Carlin, for the victim’s brother, told the hearing that although his client had “no strong or firm view” on the proposal to have a jury he was in favour of it, “in principal”.

Meanwhile, it was also revealed that a number of witnesses have not yet confirmed their attendance at the forthcoming inquest.

Fionnuala Connolly, counsel for the Coroner’s Service said: “There have been no replies from a number of witnesses to the first release of letters.”

The coroner said he would be asking the PSNI to “personally” serve summonses issued by the court.

Mr Leckey also requested an explanation for the blanking out of names on documents supplied by the PSNI and said anyone who was likely to be mentioned at the inquest should be notified.

“I regard that as the responsibility of the PSNI”, he added.

In March, Mr Leckey rejected requests to widen the inquest to include six other loyalist killings, saying that a public inquiry was the most appropriate way of investigating alleged links between the series of deaths in the mid 1990s.