Man appears in Dublin court in connection with 1975 murder of RUC detective

Constable Robert John McPherson was killed after attending a report of suspicious activity at a post office in Dungiven, Co Derry

Seamus Christopher O’Kane was arrested on Wednesday in connection with the 1975 killing of an RUC detective

A 73-year-old man who is wanted in Northern Ireland on firearms and explosive charges linked to the murder of a RUC officer in Co Derry almost 50 years ago has appeared before the High Court on foot of an extradition warrant.

The High Court heard on Wednesday that the murdered officer’s gun was allegedly recovered from a farmhouse where Seamus Christopher O’Kane and two others were discovered hiding out in 1976.

Mr O’Kane, who has an address at Scalestown, Dunshaughlin in Co Meath but who is originally from Garvagh in Co Derry, is wanted by authorities in Northern Ireland on four offences as part of an investigation into the murder of Constable Robert John McPherson (25) in Co Derry on July 26th, 1975 and the attempted murder of a colleague.

Mr O’Kane was arrested by detectives from the Garda Extradition Unit today following the endorsement of a Trade and Cooperation Agreement Warrant as part of a joint operation with the PSNI.


The extradition warrant states that on May 5th, 1976 Mr O’Kane and others escaped from custody at the Maze prison in Northern Ireland prior to a decision being made to prosecute him for the four offences.

Outlining the charges facing Mr O’Kane before Mr Justice Patrick McGrath at the High Court, Detective Garda Tony Keane of the Garda Extradition Unit said the warrant relates to the respondent allegedly committing four offences on February 16th, 1976 at Brockaghboy in Garvagh.

The extradition warrant states that a military observation team identified suspicious activity at a farmhouse owned by a retired farmer. It also states that officers observed three males approaching the farmhouse and that one of the males was carrying a backpack. Officers called to the farmhouse and the householder told officers that he was alone in the property.

The warrant continues that a search of the property and surrounding outhouses was conducted. During the search explosive substances, firearms and ammunition were recovered. This included two electric detonators, two improvised pressure mat switches, two Walther pistols, one Browning pistol, a 0.22 rifle, a Remington shotgun and 104 rounds of ammunition.

“Seamus Christopher O’Kane and two other males were found hiding in an upstairs bedroom in the property and were subsequently arrested,” the warrant reads.

The warrant continues that Mr O’Kane was interviewed on February 17 th, 1976, where he made a full admission to possessing the explosive substances, firearms and ammunition recovered from the property at Brockaghboy.

The two males found with Mr O’Kane at the property were interviewed. The warrant reads that both also made admissions to possessing the explosive substances, firearms and ammunition. Mr O’Kane and the other males stated that the householder had no knowledge of the materials found.

A warrant for Mr O’Kane’s arrest, for the offence of escape from custody, issued on May 7th, 1976, while a decision was taken to prosecute him for the four offences the following month.

Det Gda Keane told the court he called to Mr O’Kane’s address in Co Meath at 7.16am, where he arrested the respondent on foot of the warrant and cautioned him.

Mr O’Kane was then conveyed to Navan Garda station.

The detective said that he was prepared to consent to bail subject to certain conditions if the court saw fit.

Under cross-examination, Det Garda Keane told John Berry BL, for the respondent, it was alleged that these offences from February 16th, 1976 were linked with another incident, which was alleged to have taken place on July 26th, 1975.

Constable McPherson was from Leck, outside Coleraine in Co Derry. He was shot dead in an INLA ambush in Dungiven Main Street on July 26th, 1975. He was hit by a single shot when he and a colleague were ambushed as they investigated a report of a suspect car. His fellow officer was hit multiple times but survived.

The court heard that a firearm taken from the officer in 1975 was allegedly found at the scene at Brockaghboy in 1976.

Mr Berry said his client was sought for extradition to Northern Ireland in 1976 but it was refused by the Supreme Court in 1978. He said Mr O’Kane had been living openly in the Meath area.

Mr O’Kane was granted bail on condition that he reside at Scalestown in Dunshaughlin, that he sign on three times a week at Ashbourne Garda Station, that he must obey a daily curfew of 9am to 9pm, provide a mobile phone number to gardaí which he must carry at all times and not apply for any duplicate passport or travel documents.

Mr Justice McGrath fixed June 19th as the date for the next hearing of the extradition case.