Swatragh man convicted of IRA murder at Mid Ulster Hospital in 1981

Seamus Martin Kearney
Seamus Martin Kearney

A SWATRAGH man has been jailed for life after being convicted of the IRA murder of part time RUC man John Proctor 32 years ago.

Belfast Recorder, Judge David McFarland told 54-year-old Seamus Martin Kearney, he was satisfied he was “either the gunman, the driver of the Ford Escort RS200 (getaway car) or was an occupant of the car being present to provide support for the killing”.

Kearney, of Gorteade Road, Swatragh, had denied the murder of the 25-year-old reservist and possessing the Armalite AR15 assault rifle used to shoot him dead minutes after visiting his wife June, and new-born son, John Jr, at the Mid Ulster Hospital on September 14, 1981.

DNA found on a cigarette butt recovered from the scene later matched Kearney’s DNA profile and the Belfast Crown Court judge said in “all of the circumstances I am satisfied behond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had smoked the ciragette and having finished it smoking it, discardeed it at or about the time of the shooting”.

After Judge McFarland announced his guilty verdict, Mr Proctor’s widow June, wept, “I cant believe it ... I cant believe it”, while other members his family, including his sister, comforted one and other.

Although Kearney was told, the only sentence for murder was life imprisonment, and while he is yet to hear what tariff is to be fixed on the sentence, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, he may only serve two years of the eventual sentence.

This is the second time that Kearney has been convicted of a terrorist gun attack, in December 1984 Kearney was jailed for attempting murder of UDR soldiers, whose Land Rover came under fire from the same AR15 rifle used to kill Con Proctor,, as it drove through Swatragh in the directon of Maghera in November 1982.