Man 'admits role' in murder of RUC Constable Michael Ferguson

Constable Michael Ferguson was shot dead in 1993 Constable Michael Ferguson was shot dead in 1993

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A Londonderry man has admitted he was involved in the murder of RUC Constable Michael Ferguson in the city almost 20 years ago, a court has heard.

Christopher O'Kane, from Kular Court in Derry, is charged with assisting others in the murder and IRA membership.

He is also charged with the attempted murders of a soldier and two military policemen in separate incidents.

A detective constable told the court Mr O'Kane gave police very detailed information about Mr Ferguson's murder.

However, a defence solicitor claimed his client had a history of mental health problems and made similar claims in the past before retracting them.

Michael Ferguson, a 21-year-old RUC constable, was shot by the IRA in Shipquay Street on January 23 1993.

Three members of Constable Ferguson's family and relatives of the defendant were present for the remand hearing at Londonderry Magistrates Court.

The court heard that Mr O'Kane also admitted to police to the attempted murder of a Lance Corporal at the Fort George jetty in Derry on 23 May 1994 and made further admissions in relation to the attempted murders of two military police corporals at Ebrington Barracks on 14 December 1993.

Christopher O'Kane Christopher O'Kane is charged with assisting others in the murder and IRA membership

It was also alleged the defendent admitted to officers that he was a member of the Provisional IRA between January 1991 and December 1996.

The detective inspector said he believed he could connect the defendant to the five charges.

Cross-examined by solicitor Ciaran Shiels, the police witness said he was not qualified to say if the defendant was a vulnerable person with mental health issues.

He said the defendant was properly assessed by a police psychiatrist after his arrest and was deemed to be fit for interview.

Mr Shiels said the defendant was arrested at his home last Thursday, shortly after he had been released from the Gransha Hospital mental health facility.

He said the defendant had been in Gransha Hospital for the previous three weeks, and over the last four years has been admitted to the hospital on 15 occasions.

Mr Shiels said a forensic medical officer had assessed the defendant as not being fit for interview after his arrest on Thursday.

The detective inspector confirmed that the defendant had made previous admission to the offences and to other offences linked to mortar bomb attacks and to punishment shootings when he walked into Strand Road police station in 2008.

Mr O'Kane said on that occasion the defendant had alcohol taken and was in his bare feet.

He later retracted his admissions.

The detective inspector said in 2008 the Public Prosecution Service had ruled that the defendant's admissions did not "pass the test" in relation to prosecution.

He said the defendant's admissions to other offences for which he has not been charged may be revisited at a later date.

There was no bail application and Mr O'Kane was remanded in custody.

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