Judge sets jail tariff for RUC murderer

Published Friday, 06 December 2013
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Convicted terrorist Seamus Martin Kearney, jailed for life for the IRA murder of part-time RUC man John Proctor 32 years ago, has been told he should serve a minimum of 20 years for the killing.

Judge sets jail tariff for RUC murderer
Seamus Martin Kearney leaves Derry Courthouse in 2010 after being bailed. (© Pacemaker)

However, in reality, he will serve less than two years under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Last month, Belfast Recorder, Judge David McFarland convicted 54-year-old Kearney of the reservist's murder, telling him 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, Co Derry, 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 14 September, 1981.

However, years later, his DNA was found on a cigarette butt recovered from the murder scene, for which he had no answer.

This is the second time that Kearney was jailed for a terrorist gun attack.

In December 1984, Kearney was given 20 years, of which he served ten, for attempting murder of UDR soldiers.

Their Land Rover came under fire from the same AR15 rifle used to kill Constable Proctor, as it drove through Swatragh in the direction of Maghera in November 1982.

On Friday, Judge McFarland said he did "not take into account the release scheme under the Belfast [Good Friday] Agreement".

Quoting from two senior law lords, he added that the courts still had to determine the appropriate term, regardless of any remission or parole it may attract.

The Belfast Crown Court judge said the shooting of Constable Proctor, even with "the passage of 30 years has in no way diminished the brutality of this murder".

However, Kearney heard little of Judge McFarland's condemnation of him, having turned a deaf ear to proceedings.

When brought into the dock, Kearney dismissed a fresh offer of ear phones, telling the judge: "I don't want to hear anything ...you continue on."

Regardless, Judge McFarland told him that the policeman had been an easy target for Kearney and others who "were waiting for him" after visiting his wife June and new-born son Johnnie, at the Mid-Ulster Hospital.

"I do not know," the judge told Kearney, who was not listening, "if you were the gunman, were driving the 'getaway' car, or were there to provide support".

However, he added that in all of the circumstances, his shooting "has to be one of the most appalling murders committed during that period of our history known as 'the Troubles'. The passage of 30 years has in no way diminished the brutality of this murder."

That a man can be targeted when his is attending a hospital to visit his wife and newly born son, continues to appal all right-minded members of society ... He was murdered in a most brutal fashion and given no chance to defend himself or escape.

Judge McFarland

"He was targeted for no other reason than he was a serving police officer. Looking back over the 32 years since the murder, one is struck by the absolute futility," declared Judge McFarland.

The judge added that while the policeman's son "bears his father's name, no doubt with pride, but it is a constant reminder for him, and the rest of the family, of the cruel nature of his father's death."

Earlier, a prosecution lawyer said the murder had a devastating impact on the family, who had been looking forward to a full life, following the birth of a new son, but which was turned into total carnage and chaos by the shooting.

The lawyer said Constable Proctor, was shot by terrorists who deliberately targeted him, in a planned operation, because he was a serving officer carrying out a public service.

Kearney, he said, was one of those involved, and that there no mitigating features in the case.

Later, when asked if the defence had any submissions to make, Arthur Harvey QC replied that he had none to make.

More than three decades after her husband's murder, June McMullin told UTV it was worth the wait to see his killer convicted.

Recalling the shooting, June said: "It was like a nightmare, it was like something you didn't dream of, you just though 'God how can this be happening to me?'

"To sit in the court room and look at him, to think - you ruined a family, you took a life. How could you do that? For what?," she said on Thursday's edition fo UTV Live Tonight.

"It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders - finally we got justice."

She continued: "He's a murderer and no matter how long he does he will always be classified as a murderer. With us getting a guilty verdict it's very important for other families to know that there is hope out there and maybe someday they'll get the chance to get into court as well."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
LUCYLOU in belfast wrote (418 days ago):
David in U S A you very rudely demanded that LEE from Antrim learn 'proper grammar' and how to spell before commenting! WHO MADE YOU the site monitor?? By the way where were you educated clever clogs??? In your SECOND post you use the word where [ used when indicating PLACE] when it should have been WERE! Also in your first post you spell civilians wrongly! and I have heard of not a SHRED of news ,but never not a SHED of news. Looks like a little more education wouldn't go amiss where YOU are concerned. Your contribution was tremendous!!
Rab in Belfast wrote (419 days ago):
Why dont you read richard o'rawes book a man who was right in the middle of the hunger strikes.......his friends died there he will tell you the truth in his book!
Eamo in Belfast wrote (420 days ago):
Dont get me wrong all murderers belong in jail, no matter what side they come from. The fact is that some come on here every time to bash the Nationalists and defend they Loyalists and armed forces. By the way Thatcher did not conceed to all the demands this is the reason those brave men kept up with the hunger strike. I brought that story up as she let ten men die. So for all out there, there are at least 3 different sides to these stories and to defend one and not at least see tge others point of view weather you agree or not is in my view very biased and is what is wrong in the state. By the way i would not give to a paper like that unlike some.
realistic in planet earth wrote (420 days ago):
do the same guidelines and tariffs apply to all paramilitaries?
lorna in limavady wrote (420 days ago):
I often wonder what has replaced the hearts of those men. who planned this attack.I would say June is a very brave woman. As a young wife she gave birth. Instead of great celebrations of the birth. she had to take her infant son home to arrange his father's funeral. How can anyong not have compassion for that family. I was all for going with the idea for dropping investigations for I believed they would be futile. would go nowhere. Now I wait for justice served to all familys who have the innocent murdered. The HET has suspended their invesrigations so that is going to take a long long time.we see how much the republicans are in control.
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