DNA links to murder
Tuesday, 28 January 2014
POLICE investigating what was described as the "brutal and grotesque murder" of former IRA man Eamon Collins, have obtained a DNA profile from the murder scene.
The revelation comes as a fresh appeal for information is launched on the 15th anniversary of Mr Collins' murder.
The 45-year-old, who became one of the IRA's most vocal critics, was found beaten and stabbed to death at Dorans Hill near his Barcroft home on January 27, 1999.
Mr Collins, who was married and a father of four children, had been out walking his dogs at around 6am on the country road when police believe he was struck by a car before being beaten and stabbed.
Yesterday (Monday) police appealed for information about the car used in the attack - a white Hyundai Pony, and a hunting knife, part of which was recovered from the scene. Police said they are "not without hope" that one of the killers will be identified.
Former Detective Chief Inspector Kenneth McFarland, who led the previous investigation into the killing, said he believed the south Armagh Provisional IRA carried out what he described as one of the most horrific murders he had seen in almost 30 years. No group ever admitted responsibility for the killing.
During an inquest in 2007, State Pathologist Jack Crane and Coroner John Leckey agreed that Mr Collins' murder was one of the most brutal, horrific and grotesque they had encountered.
Mr Collins had worked as an intelligence officer for the IRA, gathering information through his job as a customs officer in the Newry area.
However he faced numerous death threats as he began to publicly criticise the IRA. In 1985 he was arrested and charged with IRA membership and 50 terrorist offences, including five murders. During questioning by the RUC he agreed to act as a supergrass - promising to give evidence against his former colleagues, but later refused, disowning his own statements.
He later walked free from court after the judge accepted his claims that unacceptable methods had been used to extract his statements.
In 1997, he wrote the book 'Killing Rage' which was highly critical of the IRA, and a year later he denounced the Real IRA in a newspaper article - coming close to naming the leader of the paramilitary group, who he claimed was responsible for the murder of 18 soldiers in Warrenpoint in 1979.
Despite threats against his life, Mr Collins returned to the Barcroft area and refused to leave his home - in what was described as a "personal odyssey" as he attempted to come to terms with his past.
In Killing Rage, Mr Collins wrote: "I truly believe that only by confronting our past actions, by understanding the forces which drove us to carry them out, can we hope to create the possibility of a society in which these actions do not occur again."
Speaking on Monday, Detective Inspector Peter Montgomery, of Serious Crime Branch, said: "Eamon Collins had a well-publicised past but he was a husband and a father and his life was taken in the most brutal and barbaric manner.
“We have a DNA profile from the scene so we are not without hope that one of the killer gang will be identified through the course of police inquiries.
“Today we are also issuing a photo of a hunting knife similar to one used in the attack. We have recovered part of this knife. In addition, we are issuing a photo of a Hyundai Pony car similar to the one used by Eamon Collins' killers.
“I would appeal to anyone who can provide information about the knife, the car or those involved in this brutal killing to contact us. It is 15 years since Eamon Collins was murdered. Much has happened in the intervening years in terms of politics, policing and allegiances.
“I would ask those with information about Mr Collins' murder, particularly those in the Barcroft estate, to think again about the awfulness of what happened and about his family. It is never too late to come forward."
Anyone with information can contact detectives on 02890 700 727 or 07585 228 283. Alternatively, people who do not want to provide their personal details can phone the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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