Northern Ireland

Accused former RUC officers fail to face court in Derry

Londonderry courthouse
Image caption The two former officers did not turn up at Londonderry Magistrates Court on Friday

The prosecution of two retired RUC officers accused of committing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice, did not go ahead on Friday as they failed to appear in court.

The accused are John McGahan, 71, and Phillip Noel Thomson, 64, both of whose addresses were given as PSNI headquarters at Knock in Belfast.

Both have been charged over statements they recorded in 1979.

The case against both was adjourned until 27 June.

Mr McGahan, is charged that between 27 February and 2 March 1979, with intent to pervert the course of justice, he recorded a written statement after caution from Gerald Kieran McGowan over the murder of a member of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers which was not Mr McGowan's independent account.

Lieutenant Stephen Andrew Kirby, 22, was shot by an IRA sniper while on foot patrol on Abercorn Road in Derry on 14 February 1979.

Mr Thomson is charged that between the same dates, with intent to pervert the course of justice, he also recorded a written statement after caution from Gerald Kieran McGowan, over the murder of Noel Ronald Smith, which was not Mr McGowan's independent account.

A defence solicitor representing both retired detectives told District Judge Peter King that he had received, from the prosecution, papers in the case.

However he said one of his clients was "working away" and the other was on holiday outside the jurisdiction.

He said he had written to the court service and the public prosecution service requesting an adjournment in the case until June 27.

A judge granted the adjournment application but told the defence solicitor that he intended the hearing to go ahead on that date.

Mr McGowan, and three other Derry men, fled across the border when they were released on bail in 1979, accused of Lieutenant Kirby's murder.

They were all aged 17 at the time and they remained on the run for 20 years before the murder charge was dropped in 2000.

During that period they lived openly in the Republic of Ireland. But neither the then RUC or today's PSNI ever requested their extradition.

All four men were in Londonderry Magistrates Court on Friday accompanied by members of their families.

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