Posts by Patricia Devlin

Journalist from Ireland covering crime and investigations wherever it takes me.

Face-to-face with the main suspect in the Inga Maria Hauser murder case

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Today marks 30 years since a sheep farmer discovered the battered body of 18 year-old Inga Maria Hauser in a remote spot of Ballypatrick Forest Park on the outskirts of Ballycastle, Co Antrim.

The backpacker from Munich had arrived in Northern Ireland on April 6, 1988 after taking a ferry from Scotland just a few hours before.

She was on an adventure. Travelling around Europe, discovering new parts of the world with the hope of making new friends. She’d almost finished that once-in-a-lifetime trip when she stepped off the boat that morning in Larne. Sadly, she was never seen alive again.

Inga Maria was brave. We know that because despite Northern Ireland being in the midst of a fierce bombing and bullet campaign, where innocent lives were lost week in and week out, this bright, bubbly young woman still wanted to visit, to explore the troubled province, all on her own. We also know she was brave because, as police have confirmed, she fought for her life. Her attacker responded by assaulting her so viciously, he broke her neck.

Her killer is still free and as dangerous, if not more so, than ever. He has enjoyed three decades of freedom, while the Hauser family have endured a lifetime of heartache.

SDLP MLA John Dallat, who has for the last 30 years appealed to those who have information on the murder to come forward, said today: “Wouldn’t it be great if we were to learn that the culprit has been arrested and the witnesses had broken their silence.

“Surely they must realise the whole community is behind them doing that, something which would bring peace to themselves but especially to the Hauser Family.

“Fingers crossed and prayers that those witnesses will find the strength to take the only option they have – tell it all and if they haven’t already done it, do it tomorrow.”

Below is a piece I wrote for last week’s Sunday World newspaper days after John and blogger Keeley Moss helped unveil a touching memorial to Inga Maria at the entrance to Ballypatrick Forest.

As you will read I spoke to the suspect in the case, a man who was on the very same boat as Inga Maria during that fateful journey. He lives in a tight knit and small community in Co Antrim, an area regularly targeted by police appeals for anyone, and detectives believe there are a few people, with information on her murder to come forward.

Maybe this year, someone finally will.

A SUSPECT in the brutal murder of German backpacker Inga-Maria Hauser claims police have “tortured” him over her death.

The Co Antrim man, now in his 50s, has been arrested and questioned multiple times over the shocking 1988 murder, but told the Sunday World last week: “I had nothing to do with it.”

It can be revealed the grandfather, who lives in a tiny village close to the spot where the 18 year-old’s battered body was dumped, was one of the last people to see the Munich teen alive.

He became the focus of the high-profile killing investigation after telling murder cops he saw the tourist on-board the fateful Ulster bound ferry where she met her murderer.

He has also denied he is the man police say was spotted with scratches on his face days after Inga-Maria disappeared after travelling to Northern Ireland.

The haulage worker, who we can’t name for legal reasons, spoke out ahead of the 30th anniversary of the teenager’s death.

Over 200 people gathered on Friday to unveil a touching memorial to the Munich woman at Ballypatrick Forest Park, Ballycastle, where a farmer found her beaten body three decades ago.

Following the touching service, organised by SDLP MLA John Dallat, police again made a direct appeal to a number of individuals living in rural Antrim who they believe can solve the killing.

Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray said: “We are all getting older, we are moving on – is this something that you want to take with you to your grave?

“Some people are like that, but some people are not, some people struggle and I think this person is struggling.

“It is not too late now to examine your own conscience and come forward to the police.

“What we need is just those few fractional pieces of evidence to help us complete the picture. We think we are close.”

In 2016 a man was arrested but later released over the killing.

It can be revealed that a “distressed” individual living in a tight-knit GAA community in Co Antrim was close to telling cops what they knew about the sexually motivated murder some years ago.

However due to health problems, they did not go ahead.

A source said: “This person has already told someone that they know what happened Inga-Maria.

“They know who killed her, why they killed her and who helped them dispose of her body.

“It has weighed heavily on them for years and they were close to telling police formally what they knew but due to ill health it wasn’t possible.

“However officers are still hopeful this person will eventually come forward and assist.

“The guilt of knowing who was responsible for killing an innocent young woman – a sister, a daughter – who had her whole life ahead of her, is weighing heavily on their conscience.”

The Sunday World travelled to the rural village which police believe holds the key to solving Inga-Maria’s murder last week.

There we spoke to the man who locals say has lived under cloud of suspicion since the April 1988 killing.

Part of a well respected family who say the man has been “tortured” by police, he told our reporter on the doorstep of his countryside home: “I spoke to police and told them what I could. I had nothing to do with it whatsoever. I’ve been tortured over it.”

A male relative of the suspect, also spoke to this newspaper.

He said: “(Suspect’s name) was the one who went to police and then arrested for trying to help.

“He even wanted to go and meet the woman’s parents in Germany to tell them it wasn’t him, but was advised against it

“The police carried out DNA tests in the area and through that he was cleared. I also gave DNA, as did many others voluntarily.”

“It’s about time police started to ask why they are not getting a match to the DNA here, I believe it’s because the murderer is not here.

“There is no way anyone in this community would hide a murderer.”

Inga-Maria Hauser was last seen alive as she journeyed by ferry from Stranraer to Larne on April 6, 1988.

Her battered body was found dumped in Ballypatrick Forest Park, on the outskirts of Ballycastle,14 days later by a farmer walking his dog.

Her neck had been broken in what police described as a “vicious and ruthless” assault. Detectives believe her killer had a sexual motive.

Her belongings, including a diary and a camera, were laid out beside her body and revealed she had not penned one entry on her time in Northern Ireland. Eight rolls of film also showed she had not taken one picture of her short time here.

Detectives are convinced this is because she was murdered shortly after getting off the ferry.

One line of inquiry is that Inga had stepped off the boat before realising she had left a bag with her belongings on-board.

She went back but by the time she returned to exit off the foot terminal, it had been closed.

It meant she then had to leave through the vehicle exit, where it is believed she accepted a lift from a lorry driver. She was never seen alive again.

Last week police released further information about their investigation into her murder, including how cops travelled to Scotland to piece together her last movements.

A team of detectives handed out leaflets to passengers on board and spoke to those waiting in terminals at Belfast and Cairnryan.

Det Chief Supt Raymond Murray, said: “We already know Inga Maria’s movements during her journey around England from London to Bath and on to Liverpool.

“However, we need to know more about what she did and who she met while in Scotland.”

Prior to her death the backpacker travelled around England. After leaving Liverpool she journeyed to Preston and then north to Inverness in Scotland.

She took the train to Glasgow and on to Stranraer.

Mr Murray said: “She will have stood out from the crowd with her German accent and distinctive style of clothing – she was wearing baseball boots and a long, flowing skirt, possibly multi-coloured, a jacket, possibly denim, with a large blue rucksack.

“On top of this rucksack was a smaller bag with a distinctive US Air Force badge.”

He added: “The murder was brutal, the attack was brutal and the assault was brutal.

“But there is something horrendously callous about leaving that young girl’s body lyng unattended in a forest for 14 days. All murder is outrageous but that gives another dimension to the horror of that final evening.”

Police also have a male DNA profile from the crime scene but have yet to secure a positive match.

In one of the largest screenings ever undertaken in the UK, 2,000 samples have so far failed to produce a definitive match.

However, officers are expecting the results of further testing, including a trawl of updated familial DNA samples, within days.

Mr Murray added: “We have had it from day one. It has been run and the scientists have it at the minute and those results are about to come back to the investigation team.

“We are investigators and we keep an open mind but the evidence and the information and the intelligence that we have to date has led us to focus on a very, very small number of individuals.”

ENDS

The questionable tactics used by Scientology linked rehab firm on Irish drug addicts

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Originally published in the Sunday World, 01/04/2018

A controversial drug rehab firm linked to Scientology uses high-pressure sales tactics to get addicts to sign up to its £18,000 detox programme

Cult-linked Narconon, who plan to build a €5.6 million rehab centre in a small village in Co Meath, flew two staff members to Dublin within days of being contacted by our undercover reporter, who was posing as a drug-user looking for help.

In a special investigation, the Sunday World found how staff placed huge pressure on the self-confessed ‘addict’ to sign up to their controversial detoxification course.

They even advised our undercover reporter to get into debt using her credit card to pay for the expensive programme.

She was urged to immediately walk away from her job and partner during a meeting at a Dublin cafe.

She received a total of 54 texts and 11 phone calls in just 24 hours as they plied on the pressure for her to leave immediately for a UK facility.

The encounter came after our reporter contacted the organisation asking for help with a fictitious drug problem.

They were so keen to have her admitted they jetted over from England to escort her from Dublin.

She made contact with the facility after filling out an online form on its website.

Almost immediately she received an email from a staff member called Evan Perkins.

Within minutes of replying she received a text via WhatsApp where she was asked her age and her occupation.

Posing as a young marketing professional told him she was struggling with a daily cocaine and painkiller addiction.

Within ten minutes Mr Perkins, a former HR manager with Narconon’s Californian centre, called her.

After questioning her further about her professional and personal life, she was told she was “suitable” for the programme.

He explained how the detoxification process would begin “straight away”.

Due to Narconon not being fully set up in Ireland yet, she was told she would have to travel to the organisation’s UK clinic.

Set on four acres of countryside, the West Sussex mansion is called the ‘New life Detox Centre’.

There she would receive high doses of vitamins to help cleanse the drugs from her system, spend up to five hours a day in a sauna to “sweat” the cocaine from her body and receive mindfulness type therapy.

She would also complete a course on helping her remove “anti-social personalities” from her life.

When the three month detox plan was completed, she would receive career and life guidance a member of Narconon staff, for up to 18 months, she was told.

After expressing concern about telling family, friends and work colleagues about her addiction, she was advised that she could do so, via email if she wished, when she was admitted to the facility.

He also told her that a qualified doctor, connected to the organisation, would construct a sick note stating “whatever she wanted”. She could then post this to her employer.

“We could go down the line of mental health, or stress, if that was OK with you,” Mr Perkins said.

It was only when she asked about the cost of the treatment that she was told it came with an eye-watering £18,000 price tag.

“In any other treatment facility it would be £10,000 to £20,000 a month, but this is £18,000 for the 12 weeks,” he said. “As well as doing all the steps you get assigned someone from Narconon to help with your life and career for up to 18 months after you leave.”

She informed Mr Perkins she could not afford to pay for the treatment up front.

He then told her: “We will work out with you the best way that will work, you can put a down payment of some size and we can work out a way for you to get a loan or (credit) cards or whatever is comfortable for you, and the organisation, to pay it in a way that works.”

Mr Perkins added: “Our first priority is that we want to help you, the end game.

‘And I’ll just tell you frankly what my end game would be. To fly in (to Dublin) on Wednesday and fly (back) with you on Thursday.

“I can have the team on our end start preparing you a letter, if that will help. You should start putting the pieces in place to pretty much come right away.”

Our reporter met Mr Perkins on Wednesday afternoon at a Dublin city centre cafe.
He jetted in alongside another member of Narconon staff, to meet her.
His companion, an American woman, called herself Reggie.

It was during this bizarre meeting that both well dressed colleagues placed a considerable amount of pressure on her to leave the country and receive treatment.

She was also advised against telling her partner that she planned to leave Ireland.

“Once you are there you are going to get some stability, you are going to have some reality and then we can sit with you and go through it, and you can either do it by email or call,” Reggie said.

She then told her: “Don’t you think it would be better if you just called in to work now and said, I’m not feeling very well, I need to go home.

“It would actually be better. There’s so much stress right now, it would be better if you just stayed with us and worked out the finer details and then go back with us back on the plane. That would be the easiest thing.”

When she said she wanted time to think about joining the programme, and asked for some time alone, Reggie told her: “The problem is when you are by yourself then comes in lots of problems and the person then makes wrong decisions at that point.”

During the strange one hour meeting our reporter was also handed two packets of vitamin based capsules, which ingredients included magnesium and niacin – an organic compound heavily used in Scientology’s ‘purification’ programme.She was told to take them to help with the “stress and anxiety” of leaving Ireland to receive treatment.

When questioned whether it would be possible to take anti-depressants to help with her mood during her time at the clinic, she was told that she could not do so.

“Your depression will more or less disappear on the first day….the vitamins lift your mood massively,” Reggie said.

Before leaving the meeting she was again advised on obtaining credit, whilst in Narconon’s care, to pay for the treatment.

Later that afternoon she was bombarded with texts and calls from Mr Perkins.

In one text he said: “Please answer my call. It is not good for u to be in your head”.

She then informed Mr Perkins she had changed her mind about signing up to the programme.

He responded by sending further texts and attempting to contact her by phone.

In total she received 54 texts and 11 missed phone calls in 24 hours after the meeting.

Independent Dublin city councillor Christy Burke, who has helped hundreds of constituents obtain addiction treatment in the drug ravaged north inner city, said he was appalled at Narconon’s methods and claims at treating drug addicts.

He said: “This is not the way those suffering from drug addiction should be receiving treatment.

“Having helped many constituents obtain addiction services, it is clear what this organisation is saying goes against all medical advice, and almost going into dangerous territory.

“It just comes across as a shady cult.”

Speaking to the Sunday World ex-Scientologist John McGhee – who spent three years in the grip of the cult –  said he was not surprised by the tactics used by Narconon to recruit vulnerable people to the treatment programme.

The Offaly-based embalmer, who has been campaigning against the Ballivor proposed centre, said he believes the centre will be a “recruitment tool” for Scientology.

“They keep trying to distance themselves from Narconon but there is no distance, it is Scientology by another name,” he said.

“When I was involved I was regularly asked to give donations to Narconon.

“The programme that they put the addicts on, they put me on when I joined, and I’ve never done drugs.

“It’s like a purification rundown and it’s supposed to rid your body of residual toxins to get you on what they call the bridge to total freedom, which costs about €400,000 to complete

“But the first step is exactly the same as what they are trying to get addicts on, where they take the high doses of vitamins and go into the sauna.

“This programme offers no cure for anything. It’s all about money, nothing else. It offers no cure for anything.

“If it’s offered to a drug addict whose liver or immune system is compromised they could end up with permanent organ damage. It can even result in death, as has happened in the past.”

In 2012 three patients at Narconon’s chief facility in Oklahoma died within a nine month period.

The deaths resulted in a police investigation and authorities later revoked the centre’s permit for medical detoxification. Staff were also refused counselling certificates.

The addiction treatment – backed by movie stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta –  involves ingesting a high-dose cocktail of vitamins before cooking in a sauna for up to five hours and has been outlawed in the US state of Oklahoma.
In Ireland it has been dismissed by HSE experts and the Department of Heath, who said the treatment has “limited or no basis” in the science of human physiology and brain functioning.

 

However due to a lack of legislation the private facility is free to set up and run in Ireland without being monitored.

It was confirmed last month that Narconon would open a 34 bed facility in the remote Meath village of Ballivor on a proposed nursing home site.

The news came less than two months after 200 people took to the streets against the plans to turn the former national school site into a residential drug treatment centre.

Bosses of the US-born project have since claimed the centre bring will bring in €850,000 per year to the local community, on top of six full-time jobs.

However locals, business owners and politicians have fiercely vented their opposition to the new clinic, and voiced fears it could be a “recruiting ground” for Scientologists.
Last month Narconon officials defended plans for its Ballivor centre in an attempt to allay locals fears.

In an interview with the Meath Chronicle Janet Laveau, of the Church of Scinetology’s National Affairs Office, said: “What we would like to say is that Narconon is really dedicated to addressing the issue of drugs, offering a drug free withdrawal programme that restores people’s lives.

“It’s a safe programme and it is going to bring, I think, a significant benefit to the community both in terms of economic injection in to the area and with very stringent security measure in place so that it is a safe programme and enhances the environment.”

Speaking about the protests against what would be Narconon’s first Irish centre, she added: “I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life. Never, I’ve been working with Narconon since the early 80s and I’ve never personally experienced anything but complete acceptance because the programme makes so much sense to people.”

Statement from Narconon on Sunday World investigation:

A 2017 study by the Health Research Board, reports the death rate from drug use in Ireland is triple that of other European countries—roughly 71 per million people per year. Studies also show that in Ireland two people die every day from street drugs. There are more Irish people dying of drug abuse than traffic accidents. “Replacement drugs”, originally intended to deal with the problem, are implicated in some of these deaths.
Narconon is a non-profit, non-religious, drug rehabilitation programme aimed at those looking to get off alcohol and drugs and helping them lead better lives. It is open to anyone without regard to religion or belief. Many Irish people have gone through the programme and lead drug free lives today thanks to the programme.
Narconon’s high level of care for the students on the programme and for the surrounding community is reflected in every aspect of its operation. Because the Narconon programme is entirely drug-free – it utilises and tolerates no drugs – students are assured a high level of safety and security, as are local residents.
Narconon’s around the world have put tens of thousands of people successfully through the programme. It has proven to be highly successful. The effectiveness of the Narconon programme and its positive impact on communities have earned broad support of civic and business leaders and government and law enforcement officials worldwide.
Narconon, meaning “no drugs”, is a drug-free residential programme that addresses the debilitating effects of drug and alcohol abuse and has helped tens of thousands internationally to start new lives, free from drugs. The programme consists of three phases; drug-free withdrawal, a detoxification component to help a person feel cleansed of drug residues and life-skills necessary to maintain a drug-free life and restore relationships with family and friends that often have been shattered by drug abuse.
Narconon centres have been saving lives for more than 50 years. The programme has proven results. The safety and effectiveness of its procedures is second to none. There are dozens of Narconon drug rehabilitation centres in 18 countries including the United Kingdom, United States, Mexico, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Egypt, Australia, Taiwan, Nepal and elsewhere.
The Narconon programme was developed from the woks in this area of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology religion. Mr Hubbard was a humanitarian whose works include discoveries in the fields of education, morality as well as drug rehabilitation.   Wanting to help those thought lost to drug addiction, Mr Hubbard made his research and discoveries in the field of drug abuse broadly available. The result was the establishment of Narconon, a non-profit, drug rehabilitation programme. A person does not become a Scientologist by completing the programme. The programme is open to anyone without regard to religion or belief.
The Church of Scientology and individual Scientologists support Narconon as part of their social mission. Many Narconon facilities exist today because of generous contributions of time and money from Scientologists over the past decades. 

The RUC widow left with a collusion legacy

Published in the Sunday World (March 25, 2018)

IT’S been over 40 years since Rosemary Campbell was left a heartbroken widow.
But for the 84 year-old nothing has changed since the day her Catholic RUC husband was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries.
That’s because the grandmother has been left with a collusion legacy where walls of silence still exist, and an unwillingness to open the dark doors of the past remains intact.
No-one will tell the Co Antrim woman, left to bring up eight children on her own, that her husband’s death did not involve paramilitary-linked RUC colleagues.
Her long-held belief unshaken despite the lack of conclusive evidence made available to the Police Ombudsman, and more recently, being “let down” by the PSNI.
She told the Sunday World: “Three years ago PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton visited me in my home.
“He had not read the file into Joseph’s murder and he said he wasn’t sure what else he could do for us.
“He said we’d got a trial, a Police Ombudsman’s report…then he suggested compensation.
“But as my daughter told him that day, the thing we really want no-one can give us – to hear Joseph voice again.
“My son did however give him some information on those involved, and he said he’d go straight back to the police headquarters, look into it and get back to him.
“We are still waiting. We feel completely let down.”
Last week the family were notified that 14 years after submitting a high court writ against the RUC over Sgt Campbell’s death, defence teams for the force have finally responded.
It is hoped the case will proceed this year, but the family say a time scale is currently unclear.
The Donegal-born Sergeant was shot dead as he locked up the gates of Cushendall RUC station in Co Antrim on February 25, 1977.
He’d previously served in Derry as well as Crossmaglen, where a Co Armagh nationalist MP launched a petition to keep him stationed after news he was to be moved.
The day after his murder a Church of Ireland minister broke down on TV as he paid tribute to the officer. He was admired by all sections of the community.
When he was gunned down it was first believed the 49 year-old had been murdered by the IRA.
But within days the murky truth of who was responsible began to emerge.
His son Joe said: “The reason my father was killed was because he was very good at his job. “He discovered something so sensitive that it led to the decision to kill him.
“But I am also confident that my father would not have been killed if he’d been of the Protestant faith.
“He knew that there were people in Special Branch in Ballymena working closely with the army and loyalist terrorists committing atrocities across south Derry and the north Antrim area.
“Key to that they were smuggling guns from our neighbouring parish in Waterfoot through Red Bay and they took the decision to kill him.
“A serial killer, Robin Jackson… was employed by, supported by and covered up for, by the security forces.”
Jackson was not only a member of the Mid-Ulster UVF, but also a member of the notorious Glenanne Gang and a Special Branch agent.
He is suspected of being involved in around 100 sectarian murders before his death in 1998.
Speaking at a Truth and Reconciliation Platform (TaRP) event held in Bellaghy, Co Derry last week, Joe told how he challenged Jackson face-to-face over his father’s murder.
Standing alongside other victims’ relatives and Troubles’ survivors including Stephen Travers, Alan McBride and Eugene Reavey, he said: “It didn’t end well. He didn’t admit to the killing.”
In 2014 a 11 year Police Ombudsman investigation into Sgt Campbell’s murder came to a conclusion.
It stated that the 49 year-old’s murder could have been prevented by senior RUC commanders.
The watchdog added that evidence of collusion could only be determined as “inconclusive”.
“I was briefed every few months in terms of the Ombudsman investigations,” said Joe.
“I was told Special Branch organised the murder by the Ombudsman, I was told there were systematic attempts at cover-up by hiding and destroying documents, a number of ex-RUC officers didn’t co-operate with the Ombudsman, there were many, many, many in senior positions who didn’t.
“Sir Kenneth Newman, who went on to head the Metropolitan Police, said he couldn’t remember the case. It was on his watch.
“Two other assistant chief constables refused to co-operate. One, the Ombudsman told me, that when investigators knocked on his door, he told them ‘f*** off’.”
The only conviction in the case, which was later quashed on appeal, was that of retired RUC Special Branch officer Charles McCormick.
He was convicted of charges including possession of explosives and firearms and armed robbery three years after the sergeant’s death.
A second man Anthony O’Doherty, originally from Portglenone in Co Antrim, was convicted of withholding information about the murder but later received a royal prerogative of mercy.
A republican, O’Doherty was recruited by McCormick to become a Special Branch informer.
Despite disappointment after disappointment, the family still hold out hope for justice, and the truth.
In 2014 the Attorney General ordered a fresh inquest into Sgt Campbell’s death.John Larkin made the call after being presented with fresh evidence by the family’s solicitor Fearghál Shiels.
Said Joe: “I’d say to the people out there looking for justice, don’t give up.
“It’s a hard road and the investigation took 11 years, concurrent to that we took out a writ against the RUC in 2004, they decided last week they are going to answer it.
“Meanwhile, we aren’t going to give up.”

ENDS

 

‘I want to send a clear message to all abusers…we are coming after you. You will all face justice’

 

Last week I spoke to institutional abuse survivor Cecil Wilson, who after almost four decades, bravely made a formal police complaint about a violent assault carried out by a teacher inside one of Northern Ireland’s most notorious children’s homes.

This June will exactly mark 40 years since Cecil was left with permanent damage to his mouth after Bill Brown – now 74- smashed a set of keys into his face in a fit of rage at Co Down’s Rathgael Training School.

Last week Brown, from Donaghadee, Co Down, was convicted of child cruelty after a District Judge praised Cecil’s honesty in recounting the brutal attack, which evetually left him without an entire row of his top teeth.

I have went into more detail about the court case further down in this post, but one of the most important things I think that should be acknowledged, first and foremost, is just how important Cecil’s case is for victims of institutional abuse here.

The many, many victims who have been left in limbo 15 months after Sir Anthony Hart’s damning report which stated wideapread abuse went on in state run, religious and/or charitable run homes here. And almost 9 months since Sir Anthony Hart appealed to politicians to implement his recommendations, which included compensation, a memorial and a public apology, as “a matter of urgency”.

Cecil’s case shows that even those who only find the courage to come forward about abuss after some length of time can still get justice.

As victims campaigner Martin Adams said:

“Cecil has been very courageous and has remained very dignified throughout his quest for justice.

“His verdict is for all victims”.

Originally published in the Sunday World (March 18, 2018)

THIS is the brave abuse victim who took on a bully boy teacher 40 years after an horrific assault in a notorious children’s home.

Bangor man Cecil Wilson (55) was left scarred for life after cruel PE teacher Bill Brown launched a violent attack on him in Rathgael Training School in 1978.

But it is only this month, four decades on, that the grandfather has got justice over the assault which has left him without a row of his front teeth.

Ards Magistrates Court last week found pensioner Brown, of High Bangor Road, Donaghadee, guilty of child cruelty after hearing how he smashed a set of keys into Cecil’s face in front of other pupils.

The teenage boy, sent to the Co Down institution for delinquency, spent days in hospital after the violent and humiliating attack which still haunts him to this day.

Yesterday he broke his silence over the abuse telling the Sunday World: “I will continue to fight for other victims of Ulster’s institutional abuse scandal.”

Cecil said: “For me nothing really has changed in terms of the damage he done to me, that will stay with me forever.

“But the fact he was convicted is a good thing, and I hope it gives other victims hope that they can still take on their abusers years on.”

Cecil was forced to relive the horrific attack after Brown pleaded not guilty to the charge last Tuesday.

He told how on June 30, 1978 he and other pupils were attending a PE class in the complex when Brown announced that a set of his keys had been stolen.

They were found a short time later by teacher who, after hearing Cecil giggle about the incident, approached him and smashed the keys directly into his mouth with a clenched fist.

As a result the 15 year-old was forced to spend several days in the school’s sick bay and received treatment from an on-site matron and a dentist.

The court was told there were logs of the incident by the matron, and a dentist was also made aware of the assault.

But it was only in 2013 that Mr Wilson came forward and reported the abuse to police after seeing a TV appeal asking for victims of historical institutional abuse to come forward.

A year later the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) concluded that there had been a systematic failure at the Rathgael facility to record physical punishment by some staff on children there.

Other allegations of sickening abuse, including sexual assaults, were also highlighted.

Defence for Brown last week said the teacher “literally could not remember him” being a resident in the school and up until five years ago was “totally unaware of the allegations”.

The lawyer also told the court that during Brown’s career in the school he was suspended after being the subject of a “lengthy investigation”. However he was cleared and later reinstated to his role.

He claimed his client was of “impeccable character” before adding that there were other young males present on that day who he said could have caused Cecil’s injury.

Brown’s lawyer added that it was “not unknown” for individuals to convince themselves over a 40 year period of incidents that did not happen.

However Judge Hamill said he could not believe that Mr Wilson had invented a memory and that a “lack of scintilla of an alternative explanation” of how the 15 year-old sustained the injury, meant he found the defence’s case “hard to swallow”.

He convicted the 74 year-old of a single charge of child cruelty and ordered him to pay a fine of £100, as well as £500 compensation to Cecil.

“What Brown did to me lives with everyday, but it was even more traumatic to have to face him in court, relive the abuse and be called a liar,” the victim told the Sunday World.

“When I look in the mirror I am reminded of what he did because I had to get four of my teeth removed because of the damage he caused.”

He added: “Victims have been waiting now 15 months since the HIA report came out and still haven’t been compensated, the government needs to get its finger out so survivors can be redressed before they all pass away.”

Victims campaigner Martin Adams, who has been supporting Cecil and other victims of institutional abuse, welcomed the verdict against Brown.

He said: “Cecil has been very courageous and has remained very dignified throughout his quest for justice. He takes no glory except that his verdict is for all victims and he has vowed to continue with our campaign to see justice for all.

“I want to send a clear message to those staff tasked to care and comfort vulnerable children, but abused that position to abuse them, we are coming after you all to face justice.”

ENDS

Bringing the horror of Ulster’s past into today’s classroom

 

By Patricia Devlin

POINTING at an image of his bandmates on an assembly hall screen, Stephen Travers asks a roomful of school pupils, ‘Can any of you identify the Protestants or the Catholics?’

It was a question no teacher would dare ask, but for the Miami Showband survivor it was part of an important lesson not being taught in today’s classroom – the horror of Ulster’s troubled past.

Some shook their heads, others sat in silence. All remained transfixed on the bass player’s harrowing words.

They heard about the bomb, how it prematurely ripped through the band’s bus before blowing the musicians off their feet.

They were told about the hail of bullets, how four of the band were shot at point blank range

And they learned how, as Stephen lay critically injured, he tried to whisper into the ear of his friend Fran O’Toole, unaware he’d just been shot 22 times in the face.

On Thursday 250 young people at St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena became the first in the province to hear Stephen’s story delivered in a school setting.

Three other men who also lost relatives in merciless attacks during the Troubles also spoke to students and staff about the devastating impact of paramilitary violence on their lives.

Eugene Reavey, who lost three brothers in a loyalist attack in their south Armagh home; Michael Gallagher whose only son Aodhan was killed in the Omagh bomb and Joe Campbell, whose RUC father was gunned down by loyalists, delivered heartbreaking testimonies to children as young as 12.

“You could have heard a pin drop when the stories were being told,” history and politics teacher Denise Johnston, who organised the event, told the Sunday World.

“I think they will take the stories they heard with them throughout their lives and in doing so seek out justice.

“Sometimes we shy away from talking to our young people about our past in an attempt to protect them from the full horror of it, but here in St Louis we believe that they are taught about past in variations,” Denise said.

“As part of our teaching of history and politics we want to give students the tools necessary to make informed decisions in the future.

“Our past is still our present in so many ways. The pupils fully engaged with the event.”

Stephen along with Eugene and the other relatives have been taking the Truth and Reconciliation Platform (TaRP) talks around Ireland for sometime.

But last week’s event was the first school they’d delivered their bomb and bullet legacy to.

Michael Gallagher spoke candidly about the day he lost son Aiden in the Real IRA’s 1998 Omagh bomb attack.

“One wee girl was very emotional,” he said. “In fact she left the hall but I was glad to see her come back again.

“The message certainly I was giving was we don’t want you to go through this pain and suffering, we want you to learn that there is a better way of resolving your disagreements and differences other than shooting and bombing. For me, that was the key message.

“And I do believe it should be part of the curriculum. The educationalists could put together something – that we probably would never totally agree on the narrative –  but yesterday I think listening to people’s person own experiences was absolutely invaluable.”

Stephen Travers, who watched three bandmates be murdered in the 1975 UVF Miami Showband massacre, agreed.

“Truth and Reconciliation Platform succeeds because it personalises the tragedy of violence by presenting a real, live link to the consequences of violence,” he said.

“The young people in Ballymena were able to identify and connect with the brother who lost his brothers, the father who lost his son, the son who lost his father and the friends who lost their friends; TaRP is a living history class.
“I certainly agree with Michael that it should be on the curriculum; for the past ten years, I’ve been inundated with requests to have my book be put on the curriculum and, perhaps, it’s time to seriously consider that.”

Two days after the event, the speakers are still getting inundated with messages of gratitude from the students they spoke to.

One wrote: “We heard things that we wouldn’t be able to read in a textbook or online.”

Another simply said: “They showed us how pointless the Troubles were and the true horror of these conflicts.”

ENDS

 

 

‘I know I am not the only one he has raped’ – woman left for dead after horror attack at 8 years old breaks silence

IMG_20180219_184846

Simone

aged 8

By Patricia Devlin

A WOMAN left for dead in a sickening sex attack when she was just eight years-old has broken her silence for the first time.
Brave Simone Cunnane from Newry, Co Down, has waived her right to anonymity to tell the Sunday World: “I know the identity of the stranger who raped me.”
The mum-of-two, 31, says she has now made a formal complaint to police, who are investigating her claims 24 years on.
The revelation comes after news a man in his 40s – also from the Newry area – was recently arrested in relation to the 1994 attempted murder.
In a child sex attack that shocked the nation, Simone was playing with a pal close to her Loanda Crescent home when a man lured her into nearby woodland.
He tied a rope around her neck, subjected her to a prolonged sex assault and then hung her from a tree.
The monster then hit her over the head with a brick and raped her as she lay unconscious.
Believing she was dead her attacker fled, leaving the bloodied youngster tied up and alone.
Miraculously she survived and broke free before raising the alarm.
Today she tells her story for the first time and reveals how she is helping other women who believe the same predator attacked them.
“This man was a stranger up until not that long ago,” she told the Sunday World in an exclusive interview.
“For legal reasons I can’t go into further detail about how I came to discover his identity, but I can say that I know he not only has attacked me but others as well.
“And that is why I am speaking out, because I want to help these women and tell them they aren’t alone, and there is help.”
Recounting the day she was attacked on June 10,1994, Simone told how she had been on her way to play football with a friend.
“It was a Friday around 4pm and we left my house to get sweets and made our way to the (Barcroft Community) centre.
“It wasn’t opened, we were about 10 minutes early so we sat outside close to some trees and this is when the man approached us.
“He was smiling and told us he’d lost his wee brother and that sometimes he played in the woods and would we help find him.
“I told him, ‘I’m not allowed in the woods’. But my other friend said sometimes he would play there, so stupidly he went with him.
“I went too and once he got us into the woods he told my friend to go in one direction and then told me that I had to follow him.
“He led me to an overgrowth area and we were sitting on a small muck pile when he reached into his pocket and took out this rope.
“It was tied like a noose and as he took it out he said, ‘my brother give me this before he left’.
“The next thing he had it around my neck and was tightening it. I was choking and I tried to pull it away with my fingers.
“Then I started to shout and he put his hand over my mouth, told me to shut up and that he had a knife.
“I begged him, ‘please, don’t do this’.
In the woodland, set within Daisy Hill Nursery, Simone was subjected to a relentless series of sex assaults.
“He did things to me and he made me do things to him,” she said.
“He then told me to stand up, he had the rope on me still, and he took me towards a tree where there was a bit of an embankment.
“With the rope that was on my neck, he tied the other part of it to a branch and pushed me off the embankment and I was swinging from the tree.
“As I was grabbing at my neck to try to get the rope off I could see him standing in front of me, smiling.
“At some point I must have went unconscious and the tree branch snapped. This is when he hit me on the back of the head with the brick.
“I have a scar on the back of my head still from it. I was told after that he raped me when I was lying there, unconscious.”
Simone woke up sometime later, covered in blood and mud.
“He must have pulled me back up and tied me to the tree,” she said.
“There was muck in my mouth, all over my face, and I was being sick, vomiting.
“There was blood all over me and I remember looking down and seeing all these knots – he had tied loads all over the rope. I was in a panic, I didn’t know if he was still there, or if he was still watching me.
“I was able to get my foot out and eventually I got free.”
The eight-year-old made her way through the woods and into the garden of a family home where a man was watering his flowers.
He spotted the distressed child and went to her rescue.
“I must have collapsed and when I woke he was lifting me up and I remember saying to him, ‘please don’t hurt me, too’.
“His wife wrapped a sheet around me and I can remember hearing them talking about taking me to hospital.”
It was around 7pm when a traumatised Simone was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital where doctors and nurses sprung into action and called police.
Her devastated parents, who were out looking for their daughter at the time, raced to her bedside.
Simone was examined and interviewed by police who took away her clothes and a number of items from the scene of the attack.
But despite a high profile investigation and numerous appeals over 23 years, no-one has been convicted of the despicable attack.
In February 2013, police re-opened the attempted murder investigation.
Detectives released two computer generated images of the suspect.
Last week a PSNI spokesman confirmed that a man on January 30, a man was arrested as part of the police investigation. He was released on police bail pending further enquiries.
Simone, who last week bravely returned to the scene of the attack, said: “I always did believe the person responsible was from the area.
He knew where he was going, it was pre-meditated as he had everything with him.
“What is disturbing is that since that day the man who attacked me has been walking the streets. I know I am not the only one he has attacked.”
Simone, who received support from sexual abuse counselling charity Nexus, has been contacted by numerous women who say they believe the evil predator also attacked them.
She is now now working with Women’s Aid and Nexus to run a support group for those women.
“I went to a lady called Fiona in the Newry Women’s Aid office and explained to her my story.
“I told her how there other girls had come forward to me believing they have been attacked by the same man.
“So we came up with the idea that these women, and anyone else who might come forward, can go to Women’s Aid and get support, and counselling with Nexus.
“Some of these people are ready to go to police and some are not. But the support is there for them,”
Anyone who wishes to make contact with the group can phone Fiona at Newry Women’s Aid on 028 3025 0765.
ENDS

This woman was shot 12 times in front of her children. The man responsible is still walking the streets of Ireland.

catherineIn June 2008 devoted mum Catherine Delaney McCormack answered a late night knock at her Clondalkin home.

As she opened the door a man wearing a mask raised his pistol and fired blasting the care worker to the floor. As she laid dazed and bleeding the man – who could clearly see her two young children watching from the stairs – fired his Glock gun relentlessly at her legs and torso before walking away.

In any other part of the world this repulsive crime – which would have robbed nine young children of their innocent mother – would have been put on a pedestal by the State to find the extremely dangerous person responsible.

Not here; not in Ireland

For whatever reason, which myself, Catherine or activists have been unable to find out through gardai, GSOC, and the Department of Justice, it lays unsolved with no real appetite within any of the above named organisations to offer answers or have this case closed.

Today this woman, left with catastrophic injuries after being blasted with 12 bullets at close range, is left not only living in fear but to also to fund her own campaign to try to convict the person who tried to kill her.

What makes Catherine’s story all the more horrifying is she KNOWS the person who ordered her death, and she handed the evidence to gardai YEARS ago.

Yet this man is walking the streets, knowing he has almost gotten away with attempted murder, or as gardai described it, a ‘shooting incident’.

Ahead of the ninth anniversary of this unthinkable crime, I will be uploading a series of articles over the next number of weeks with Catherine, past and present, about her case. Below is the first story.

catherine poster

Patricia Devlin

Article first appeared in the Irish Daily Star.

A MIRACLE mum shot 12 times in a botched hitman murder-bid has said she will sue the State after being forced to set up her own campaign to bring the gunman to justice.
Catherine Delaney McCormack (50) says will launch civil proceedings against Gardai and the Health Service Executive (HSE) after being “let down”
The brave mum-of-nine, who was shot in the legs, stomach and back, is lucky to be alive after the horrific hit witnessed by four of her children.
And yesterday the courageous former carer told The Star that despite giving police the name of the man she believes paid to have her killed, the suspect has yet to be questioned.
Caherine, who was forced to flee Dublin over fears she could be targetted again, also revealed how she has set up her own campaign to find the gun-toting gangster behind the murderous hit
“Not getting justice has been more traumatic than the actually shooting,” she told The Star yesterday.
“It’s got to the stage now where I am gathering my own information, and I am going to take civil action against the whole State.
“The way this system has treated me has actually been worse than me being shot 12 times.”
Catherine was left fighting for her life after a gunman blasted her in the legs, stomach and back during an early morning attack at her west Dublin home in 2008.
She was shot as she opened the door to her Clondalkin home.
“I was in bed and heard this banging on the door, it was like an urgent knock, like something had happened,” said Catherine.
“I was worried that something had happened to one of my older lads who had been out that night. So I got dressed quick, I shouted I was coming. Then the banging stopped.
“As I went down the stairs my 10 year-old and 12 year-old stood at the top.
“As I opened the door,  the gunman saw who it was and started to fire.”
Catherine was blasted 12 times before falling to the floor as her terrified children looked on.
“Next thing I know is I am holding my stomach, on the ground, and I had these funny sensations in y leg, and it was then it clicked, that I’d been shot.”
“He didn’t say anything at all (as he shot) and I was very conscious of the children on the stairs, that they’d get hurt. I’d no clue of what was going on.”
The mum-of-nine said she only realised how serious her injuries when she tried to crawl across the floor.
“There was this thick stream of blood, and I just thought, this is bad,” she said.
“He kept on shooting and I actually said to him, do you not think that was enough?”
“I was able to push the door closed and still two more shots came, and they went through the door. And then I felt this intense pain.”
Catherine’s terrified children ran out of the house to raise the alarm.
Within minutes paramedics and police were om the scene, with the terrified carer’s injuries so severe, they had remove a number of bullets from her body while she lay on the floor in her bloodsoaked hallway.
She had been shot six times in her left leg, twice in her right, two times in the back and once in her hip. A bullet also penetrated her stomach hitting her bowel.
“When the paramedics were putting pressure on certain parts of my body, blood was oozing out of others,” she recalled.
“They actually had to cut off my clothes and at one stage as my stomach was expanding, they thought it was going to erupt.”
As she was rushed to hospital a preist was called and she received the Last Rites at her bedside.
Despite the horrific injuries she suffered, she mad ea miraculous recovery and left hospital two weeks later.
“The doctors called me a medical miracle. They actually said to me, you shouldn’t be here – you actually shouldn’t be here.”
Sadly after returning to her work as a carer, Catherine was forced to quit due to the physical injuries she received.
But she says not seeing the man she believes is responsible for her attempted murder has been more traumatic.
“I can live the scars and the pain, but not that,” said the 50 year-old.
“Even to today, the person who I believe shot me has never been questioned, never taken in by Gardai. And I have not been told why.
“I was told by the guards it was a hired hitman, which I believe, but how do they know that? They know and I know who did it.”
“I only had one enemy, and I know of only one person who could have benefited from me dying.”
She added: “I’ve made complaints to GSOC, t almost every politician, but they do nothing.
“At the end of the day as long as we have a garda system that investigates themselves, as long as we have a HSE system that investigates itself, no victim of theirs is ever going to get justice.”
This year Catherine took her fight for justice one step further by making her own posters appealing for information that could help put her would-be killer behind bars.
“I’ve included a phone number, an email address and I’ve put them up around Clondalkin. Somebody knows something,” she said.
“If anyone has any information they are keeping, for whatever reason, I say to them, are you happy knowing that that person is walking the streets.
“If they are capable of doing that to a woman with nine children, what else are the capable of?”
ENDS