Northern Ireland

West Belfast killing investigated by GB police chief

Jon Boutcher Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Jon Boutcher, who will soon retire as chief constable of Bedfordshire, will handle the investigation

The PSNI has asked a police chief from Great Britain to investigate a killing from 47 years ago.

Jean Smyth-Campbell, 24, was shot dead in west Belfast in 1972.

Her death was initially blamed by police on the IRA, but an undercover Army unit has since been linked to the shooting.

The investigation will be handled by Jon Boutcher, the soon-to-retire chief constable of Bedfordshire.

Mr Boutcher is separately looking into the activities of an Army agent within the IRA, known as Stakeknife.

Earlier this year, Mrs Smyth-Campbell's family won a legal case in which they argued the PSNI would not be independent in carrying out a new investigation.

In a statement, the PSNI chief constable Sir George Hamilton said: "I recognise the frustration of Jean's family at the lack of progress in this case and I am deeply sorry there were previous investigative failures into the circumstances surrounding her death."

'Wrong place at the wrong time'

Mrs Smyth-Campbell, a mother-of-one, was killed by a single shot to the head as she sat in a car on the Glen Road in June 1972.

A recent court hearing was told records uncovered at the National Archives in London in 2014 suggest the Army's Military Reaction Force (MRF) fired shots in the area and was allegedly involved in her killing.

She was described as "an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time".

The PSNI will meet the costs of the new investigation.