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brutal killing Sister of Rosaleen O’Kane, murdered in Belfast flat 45 years ago, calls for investigation into death

Ms O'Kane was stripped naked, set alight, and her skull was fractured


Rosaleen O’Kane, who was murdered in her flat in 1976

Rosaleen O’Kane, who was murdered in her flat in 1976

Rosaleen O’Kane, who was murdered in her flat in 1976

The sister of a woman brutally murdered in her north Belfast flat 45 years ago has called for a proper investigation into her death.

The body of Rosaleen O’Kane was found in her home at Cliftonpark Avenue on September 17.

Kathleen Graham said she wants to finally uncover the truth of what happened.

She has now challenged the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, the Chief Constable, and the Police Ombudsman to hold a full investigation.

Ms O’Kane, a 33-year-old single woman, had been stripped naked, set alight and she had also sustained a fracture to her skull. A second fire had been set in another area of the flat.

“We would like the truth. Even one bit of truth,” said Ms Graham.

“Rosaleen was our sister, but she was like our mother. I still miss her every day.”

The original post-mortem examination in 1976 was unable to determine the exact cause of death because the pathologist could not conclude whether the fracture to her skull had been inflicted before she died or was a consequence of the fire.

Blood and other forensic samples which might have assisted in determining the cause of death and assisted police in their investigation were destroyed the next day in a fire in the Northern Ireland Forensic Laboratory.

The family has always believed that her murder was sectarian and at a meeting in 2002 police confirmed that they could not rule out a sectarian motive.

Patricia Coyle of Harte Coyle Collins, Solicitors and Advocates, said there has never been an effective investigation despite the existence of clear lines of enquiry.

“This is completely inexplicable and gives rise to serious concern,” she said. “It is extremely distressing for the family.

“Each of the relevant public authorities has the power to secure an effective investigation.”

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The Police Ombudsman’s office said: “In light of a potential challenge to the Police Ombudsman’s decision making, it would be inappropriate to comment.”

The PSNI added that “as the case is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings it would not be appropriate to comment at this time”.

The Attorney General’s office also had “no comment to make”.

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