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Coroner hears of ‘state agent’ fears

A CORONER has played down the prospect of a wider inquiry into the murder of a man near Lisburn in June 2004.

Kevin McAlorum, who had links with the INLA, was shot dead outside Oakwood Integrated Primary School in Derriaghy shortly after dropping off his young child.

The 31-year-old Belfast man was driving away from the school around 9am on June 3 when his vehicle was rammed by a van.

Two gunmen then got out of the van and shot Mr McAlorum as he sat at the wheel of the car before fleeing in a waiting vehicle.

At yesterday’s preliminary inquest hearing in Belfast, coroner Brian Sherrard heard from the McAlorum family’s solicitor how the family had concerns that at least one of three suspects in the murder could be “a state agent”.

Solicitor Padraig O’Muirigh said “those concerns are still there” and added: “I know they’ve [McAlorum family] brought issues to the ombudsman as far back as 04/05.”

The coroner responded saying if any state involvement came to light then “that would ramp it up to an Article 2 type case”.

Where there are grounds for suspecting state involvement in a killing then an Article 2 (breach of Human Rights Act right to life) inquest is convened resulting in a much wider investigation — often requiring a jury but not in every case.

However, Mr Sherrard said there was “nothing in the intelligence material” he had been shown by police to suggest an Article 2 inquest would be required.

Mr Sherrard said it was important the family had some closure on the case but added: “I haven’t seen anything to suggest there was any state intervention in this. It may well be that the family feel there is still some digging to be done there.”

Solicitor Mr O’Muirigh said the family were considering a further complaint to the office of the police ombudsman over their concerns.

The coroner said it was his intention to recall the initial investigating officer to give evidence at the inquest.

Although a clear motive for the killing was never made public, Kevin McAlorum was the older brother of nine-year-old Barbara McAlorum, shot dead by the INLA during an attack on their north Belfast home in 1996.

That attack came only weeks after the murder of INLA leader Gino Gallagher and was believed to have been in revenge due to Kevin McAlorum’s alleged involvement in Gallagher’s killing.

A possible drugs link was another line of inquiry being investigated at the time of McAlorum’s death.

Referring to the 1996 INLA feud, Mr Sherrard pointed out the “possible internecine link” in Mr McAlorum’s death but added: “What I’m faced with is just another very sad murder.”

Mr Sherrard set a provisional date for a full inquest hearing from November 23-25 but heard that due to ongoing forensic work by the PSNI — and the possibility of additional complaints by the McAlorum family to the police ombudsman — the inquest could face further delays.