NewsNorthern Ireland

After 15 years of cover-ups we demand fresh probe into murder of our Marty

Northern IrelandBy Jim McDowell
Martin O'Hagan's killers still walk free
Martin O'Hagan's killers still walk free

It’s time, folks, for the kidding to stop.

For 15 long years, this newspaper has fought for justice for our murdered colleague Martin O’Hagan. 

It will come as a shock to many of you that this Wednesday, September 28, marks the 15th anniversary of when Martin was so cruelly cut down by LVF assassins outside his home in Lurgan.

We in the Sunday World have been relentlessly campaigning for those who perpetrated this calumny to be lifted, charged and jailed. 

We have named the two main LVF godfathers who we believe – in fact, we know – committed the callous crime. 

We have no hesitation in doing so, again today. 

They are the King brothers, Drew ‘the Piper’ King and his brother Robin ‘Billy’ King.

Drew ‘the Piper’ King

Both – along with three others – were at one stage charged with Martin’s murder.

The charges were later, mysteriously, dropped.

All five originally accused walked free. They are still walking the streets.

I, and others, have no doubts about what the ‘mystery’ in all of this really is. 

Some of those involved in Martin’s murder were, and maybe still are, touts. 

Robin 'Billy' King

Whether they were or still are Special Branch informers or touts working for one of the more sinister shady organisations – the infamous military Force Reconnaissance Unit (FRU) ‘embedded’ in our dirty little sectarian war, or MI5 – we do not know. 

What we do know is that there is another ‘mystery’ in all of this. 

And that settles on one Neil Hyde.

You may recall that four years ago, Mr Hyde – a ‘main player’ in the King brothers’ LVF mob – turned ‘assisting informer’ for the police. In other words, he became what is known as a supergrass.

He appeared in court many times to eventually plead guilty to over 40 terrorist/LVF-related charges. 

I know, I attended all of those hearings and looked Hyde straight in the eye as he stood in the dock. 

Neil Hyde

We all thought Martin’s killers would be nailed and jailed at last.

It is now a matter of record – sad record – that it did not happen. 

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) was later to tell me personally that Hyde’s evidence could not be relied upon to put him in the witness box in court and tell all he knew about his outlawed LVF cohorts.

Now I am not impugning the reputation or professionalism of anyone in the PPS. But, for me, there is no mystery as to why – on top of the charges against the King brothers in particular being dropped – the potential Hyde ‘supergrass’ trial was also dropped. 

It was part of a cover-up to protect those he may name, particularly regarding Martin’s murder, and particularly those who may have been, or still are, touts. 

And don’t forget, Hyde was promised a ‘light sentence’ for becoming an ‘assisting informer’, and got it. 

A judge sentenced him to just three-and-a-half years – for confessing to over 40 terrorist-related crimes.

He should have got 18 years behind bars for the appalling catalogue of crimes to which he confessed. But that longer sentence was never sanctioned, even retrospectively.

And even though he reputedly stated he was in Lurgan just hours before Martin was murdered. And the weapon used for the murder was produced in his presence.

All of this, allied to the 15-year failure to put anyone in the dock for Martin’s murder, adds up to one factor, folks. It is time not for the reopening of the investigation into our colleague’s killing, it is time for a NEW police investigation. 

As Northern Editor of this newspaper 15 years ago, and since, I have been assured and reassured by Chief Constables and Secretaries of State that Martin’s killers would

be caught. 

They haven’t been.

There has been a sea change in policing here since Martin’s murder on September 28, 2001.

A myriad of murder inquiries have been freshly or retrospectively launched under the new regime resident at the PSNI’s Brooklyn headquarters. And some of those are covering – rather than covering up – collusion: that is, touts and informers and ‘supergrasses’ like Freddie ‘Stakeknife’ Scappaticci of the IRA and Gary Haggarty of the UVF.

That is why, folks, it is indeed time for the kidding to stop.

That is why it is time for the Sunday World to call for a fresh and new police investigation. And to publicly call on the current Chief Constable, George Hamilton, to initiate and instigate it.

After all, folks, it’s FIFTEEN years on.

And STILL no-one has been held accountable under the law.

And no-one has been brought to justice. 

For us. For his family. 

But most of all for Martin.