Fresh investigation into murders of three RUC officers

Policemen died when IRA landmine exploded near Lurgan, in October 1982


An independent investigation has begun into the murders of three RUC officers in Co Armagh 37 years ago.

Sergeant Sean Quinn and Constables Allan McCloy and Paul Hamilton were killed when an IRA landmine exploded on Kinnego embankment at Oxford Island, near Lurgan, in October 1982. It destroyed their armoured car and left a massive crater in the road.

The investigation will be led by the former Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, Jon Boutcher.

“I have met with the families of the three officers and have assured them of my commitment to this investigation,” Mr Boutcher said.

“All they have ever wanted is to find out the truth of what happened to their loved ones and I will do everything in my power to establish that for them.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable, Simon Byrne, said that “outstanding investigative opportunities” had been identified during an independent review of the case, which had been carried out at the request of his predecessor, Sir George Hamilton.

He has now asked Mr Boutcher “to head an external investigation team to carry out a separate independent investigation,” he said.

Mr Boutcher is currently leading Operation Kenova, the investigation into the agent codenamed Stakeknife, a high-ranking mole who reputedly ran the IRA “nutting squad”, which interrogated and murdered suspected informers.

He is also leading an independent investigation into the killing of a 24-year-old woman, Jean Smyth-Campbell, who was shot dead while sitting in a car on the Glen Road in west Belfast in 1972.

Neither the investigation into her death, nor those of the three RUC officers, are related to Operation Kenova.

Two IRA men who were suspected by police of involvement in the murders of the three RUC officers were themselves shot dead by the security forces a few weeks later.

Their deaths fuelled suspicion of a “shoot-to-kill” policy among the security forces, with the explosion at Kinnego regarded as one of the motivating factors. - Additional reporting: PA