NI: Police Ombudsman identifies ‘collusive behaviours’ in Damien Walsh case
The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland has identified “significant investigative failures” and “collusive behaviours” by the police in relation to the murder of Damien Walsh.
Mr Walsh was shot dead at the Dairy Farm complex in west Belfast on 25 March 1993 by members of the UDA/UFF but no one has been charged or convicted in relation to the attack.
Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson said her investigation of a complaint from Mr Walsh’s mother found no evidence that police were actively involved, had advance knowledge of the attack or could have prevented it.
However, she said police failed to capitalise on a series of significant investigative opportunities, including failing to arrest suspects, not conducting searches of suspects homes, and failing to ensure that important forensic enquiries were undertaken.
Mrs Anderson also identified “collusive police behaviours” such as failing to share important intelligence with the senior investigating officer (SIO) leading the police murder investigation and failing to advise him that the complex had been under security force surveillance.
She added that police made “a deliberate decision” to disregard intelligence about the threat posed by ‘C Company’ of the UDA/UFF at the time. She said that by stopping their surveillance of the group for an eight-day period starting three days before the murder, the RUC allowed the group to operate without the same “levels of constraint” that previously applied.
Mrs Anderson also highlighted deficiencies in the police investigation into the crime, for example failure to pursue important evidential opportunities relating to the murder weapon.
In conclusion, Mrs Anderson said that Mr Walsh was “the innocent victim of a campaign of terror mounted by loyalist paramilitaries against the nationalist community”.
She said: “The UDA/UFF alone were responsible for Damien’s murder. However, I have identified investigative failings and gaps as well as collusive behaviours by police which I believe failed both Damien and his family.”