Police issue public apology to widow of murdered GAA official Sean Brown

Bridie Brown at the High Court in Belfast on Thursday. Credit: Press Eye

Police have issued a public apology to the widow of a GAA official abducted and murdered by loyalist paramilitaries for “inadequacies” in the RUC investigation.

Deficiencies around the original probe into the killing of Sean Brown were acknowledged at the High Court in Belfast on Thursday as part of a settlement reached in legal action over alleged protection given to the terrorists who targeted him for assassination.

The resolution was announced on the 25th anniversary of the 61-year-old’s murder.

Mr Brown was abducted by a Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) gang as he locked the gates at Bellaghy Wolfe Tones GAA Club in Co Londonderry in May 1997.

The father of six was bundled into the boot of his car and taken to Randalstown, Co Antrim.

He was shot six times before the killers left his body beside the burning Ford Sierra.

No one has ever been brought to justice for his murder.

The RUC investigation into Mr Brown's killing has been subject to heavy criticism from both the Police Ombudsman and the now defunct Historical Enquiries Team.

His widow, Bridie Brown, sued the Chief Constable of the PSNI for alleged misfeasance in public office and negligence.

Her lawyers contended that RUC Special Branch deliberately hampered and withheld information from detectives investigating Mr Brown's murder.

The gun used in the shooting is linked to several other killings in the Mid Ulster area, according to the statement of claim.

It alleged: "The LVF acted with impunity conferred upon them by the State."

The case was listed for a five-day trial, due to get underway next month.

But in court on Thursday counsel for the Brown family confirmed that the action has been resolved.

Reading out an agreed statement, Brian Fee QC said: “Sean Brown, a devoted family man and a pillar of the Bellaghy community, was murder on 12 May, 1997.

“As a result of negotiations, the plaintiff has agreed a satisfactory full and final settlement of this action with the first defendant.

“The PSNI wishes to apologise to Mrs Brown and her family for inadequacies in the RUC original investigation and continues to engage fully in the ongoing inquest proceedings."