Inquest told of risk to LVF inmates


A prison officer yesterday told the inquest into the murder of the LVF leader, Billy Wright, that prison authorities were warned "there could be a shooting in H6" two months before the murder of Wright by the INLA in December 1997.

Mr Brian Thompson, on duty in the block the morning Wright was killed, said he and another officer met governors at the Maze in October 1997 and voiced serious concern over the safety of LVF prisoners in H-block 6.

"We told them the roof was insecure and there was nothing stopping INLA from climbing over the roof and shooting LVF prisoners," he said.

Another officer, Mr Raymond Hill, said he had twice been ordered to leave his post in an observation tower in the hour before Mr Wright was killed. Mr Hill said he had protested against the order. He said had he been permitted to remain at his post in the observation tower he would have noticed the movements of the INLA prisoners on the roof and raised the alarm.

LVF prisoners also gave evidence to the inquest yesterday. Norman Green told how he had been sitting beside Billy Wright inside the prison van when the attackers struck.

Green gave a graphic account of how Wright fought with his assailants before falling fatally wounded to the floor of the prison van.

He told the coroner that he had been left alone with Wright's dead body "for about 20 minutes before help arrived".

He also said the prison officer accompanying the prisoners had left the van after the shooting without checking if Billy Wright was dead or alive.

The inquest resumes at the Downpatrick Courthouse this morning.