Findings of ‘community’ investigations could be factored into Davison inquest

Flowers at the scene of Jock Davison's murder in the Markets area of south Belfast in 2015. Credit: Presseye

Findings of "community" investigations into the murder of former IRA commander Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison could be factored into his inquest, a coroner has been told.

The 47-year-old senior republican was shot dead in the Markets area of Belfast as he walked to work in May 2015.

Mr Davison had been involved in a personal dispute with other republicans.

A preliminary inquest hearing in Belfast on Wednesday was told that Mr Davison's family intend to submit documentary evidence to the coroner's court.

Barrister Sean Devine, representing the next of kin, told coroner Paddy McGurgan that much of that material is "open source".

But he added: "There are some investigations which are going on within the community, if I can put it that way, and my instructing solicitors are reaching out into areas where they would hope maybe some information might be forthcoming.

"Sometimes those type of inquiries can bear fruit, so we'll continue to do that."

Mr Devine said he intends to present the material to court in a "manageable" format once it is all collated, rather than hand it over in a "piecemeal manner".

Earlier, Peter Coll QC, representing the PSNI, told the court that police have identified around 6,000 documents that could be potentially relevant to the case.

"That will take some time to prepare the materials to be provided through the Coroners Service," he said.

Mr McGurgan said he is satisfied that work on the disclosure process is progressing.

"The family can be reassured that matters are moving forward," the coroner said.

Three months after Mr Davison was shot dead, former IRA man Kevin McGuigan was murdered in a gun attack in nearby Short Strand in Belfast.

Kevin McGuigan, pictured when his son was in hospital in 2011, was murdered in August Credit: PA

Mr Davison and Mr McGuigan had been involved in a personal dispute.

Police believe Mr McGuigan's killers suspected him of involvement in Mr Davison's death.

However, detectives have said there is no evidence to support such involvement.

Preliminary inquest proceedings for Mr McGuigan are also continuing.

Police delays in disclosing sensitive evidence recently forced the postponement of the full inquest hearing in that case, which had initially been due to commence in May.

Mr McGurgan, who is presiding over both inquests, told the court on Wednesday that the intention is to hear the McGuigan inquest before the Davison one.

He said he does not think the delay in the McGuigan inquest will have a knock-on effect on the timing of the Davison proceedings, as there is so much preparatory work still to be done before the latter is ready to be heard.

The next preliminary hearing in the Davison case is scheduled for 8 June.