Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A mother asks why the RUC did not properly investigate her son’s death

Ciaran Barnes:

Patrick McMahon was murdered by the Ulster Defence Association on the day he was moving into a new home with his girlfriend and young son.

The 23-year-old painter and decorator had spent two years renovating the property on Manor Street in north Belfast.

Mr McMahon would spend virtually all of his free time making his new home perfect for his family.

Collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and the security services meant he never got the chance to start his new life.

The gunmen who murdered Mr McMahon on October 23, 1993 lay in wait on the top floor of a derelict building on Newington Street for hours before killing their victim.

The nationalist Newington Avenue backs onto the loyalist Tigers Bay area, where the McMahon killers came from.

The UDA hit team propped up a ladder against the back of the house during the day and waited for hours until they had a random target in their sights.

Mr McMahon, his partner Mandy and two-year-old son Patrick Jr were visiting friends on Newington Avenue to show off a new German shepherd dog they had bought that week.

As they were getting out of the van which Mr McMahon had rented earlier that day to move furniture to his new home, the family heard a series of high-pitched cracks.

It was close to Halloween, so everyone assumed the noise was being made by fireworks being set off.

When Mr McMahon slumped to the ground and said he thought he had been shot, his family realised the noise had in fact been gunfire.

The north Belfast man had been hit in the chest, behind the ear and through the knees.

An ambulance was called but he died an hour later in the Mater Hospital.

The UDA men who had killed Mr McMahon escaped from the rear of the derelict house, running down an entry past a number of Protestant homes on the Hallidays Road into the Tigers Bay area.

In the weeks after her son’s murder, Emily McMahon, unhappy at the RUC investigation into the killing, started making her own inquiries.

She discovered that the RUC had never asked anyone living on Hallidays Road whether they had witnessed the fleeing gunmen.

After speaking to Newington Avenue residents who had seen the murder, Mrs McMahon also found out that an RUC patrol had arrived on the street shortly after the incident but claimed not to have heard any shots being fired.

At an inquest into her son’s death in 1994, it emerged that the weapon used to kill Patrick McMahon had been reported stolen from the RUC.

The same gun had been used in four previous murders and six attempted murders. No details on who the victims were or when the incidents had occurred were revealed to the relatives.

Emily McMahon said not an hour would go by when she does not think about her son.

She told Daily Ireland that, because the RUC had never investigated his death properly, she finds it almost impossible to grieve.

Mrs McMahon said: “Everything we have discovered about Patrick’s murder has been found out by ourselves.

“In the 12 years since his death, the RUC or PSNI have never been at my door.

“They don’t and never have cared about catching Patrick’s killers.

“He was a Catholic in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The Newington/Tigers Bay area is one of Belfast’s most dangerous interfaces but this did not stop Mrs McMahon contacting loyalists to unearth details about her son’s murder.

She explained: “I met with Protestants from the area and they swore to me that the RUC never got in touch with the people who lived on the Hallidays Road who may have seen the gunmen running away.

“That proves to me that there was collusion in Patrick’s murder. He was killed with an RUC gun and detectives never investigated his death properly.”

Patrick McMahon was a keen amateur boxer with the famous Star Amateur Boxing Club in the New Lodge district.

He travelled all over the North representing the club and, in the process, visited many Protestant boxing clubs.

He had friends on both sides of the sectarian divide. According to his mother, he “did not have a sectarian bone in his body”.

“Patrick lived for his family and friends,” said Mrs McMahon.

Victims of Collusion



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