Northern Ireland

Danny McColgan: Call for 12 questioned by police to attend inquest

Danny McColgan
Image caption Mr McColgan was murdered by the UDA as he arrived at work in January 2002

Relatives of a man shot dead by loyalists have urged a coroner to order 12 people previously questioned by police to give evidence at his inquest.

Daniel McColgan, a 20-year-old Catholic, was murdered by the UDA in January 2002 as he arrived for work in Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, County Antrim.

No-one has ever been convicted of the crime.

Lawyers for Mr McColgan's relatives also want an author who wrote about the UDA to be called as a witness.

At a preliminary hearing at Belfast Coroner's Court, ahead of the scheduled inquest in March, a barrister told coroner John Leckey that he would like to see the 12 people appear in the witness box.

In a submission to the coroner, the barrister referred to press reports written in the years after the killing referring to the number of people police had arrested and questioned.

"It would be appropriate to have such persons called," he said.

But Mr Leckey expressed doubts about the request.

He said press reports did not constitute evidence and said that it was not the coroner's job to quiz suspects on alleged involvement in murder.


A lawyer representing the PSNI also questioned the proposed course of action.

"This is not a re-opening of the police investigation," he said of the inquest.

Mr Leckey told the court he had asked the senior detective who investigated the murder at the time to prepare a statement for the inquest.

The coroner said he hoped the document prepared by now retired senior investigating officer Roy Suitters would cover the police's involvement with the 12 who were questioned, therefore negating any requirement to call them to give evidence.

He noted that transcripts of police interviews with the individuals were also available in PSNI documents disclosed to the next of kin.

A definitive ruling on the submission was not made and the issue is set to be raised again at a future preliminary hearing.

The McColgan family lawyer later asked the coroner to also consider adding the author Ian S Wood to the inquest witness list.

Mr Wood, an Edinburgh-based writer, penned Crimes of Loyalty: A History Of The UDA, which was published in 2006.

A section of the book refers to Mr McColgan's murder and the family want the author to give evidence on what his investigations had uncovered.

Again, Mr Leckey questioned the worth of the exercise.

"The standard response from journalists is that they will not compromise their sources," he said.


The PSNI lawyer said that the author had already been interviewed by police and the transcript of the questions and answers had been disclosed to the court.

"If pressed on detail he may say he wouldn't identify his sources," said the lawyer.

The PSNI lawyer added that if Mr Wood did recount conversations he had with others about what happened, that would constitute hearsay evidence, which would be of limited use.

Mr Leckey said he would ask Mr Suitters to cover the claims made in Mr Wood's book in his statement to the court.

The coroner again deferred making any decision on Mr Wood's inclusion on the witness list to the next hearing.

The McColgan family lawyer also requested police reports on the history of the two guns used in the killing.

The coroner said he would also like Mr Suitters to cover the background of the weapons in his statement.

The PSNI lawyer said he would make enquiries to establish the position with Mr Suitters' security clearance.

But he cautioned that if an issue did emerge it could potentially impact on the timetable.

Mr Leckey said he was keen to hold the inquest as soon as possible as he was mindful Mr McColgan's mother was in poor health.

Legal representatives will convene again for another preliminary hearing in Belfast on 20 March.