Ex-RUC man faces charges in Hamill case
A former member of the RUC police is among three people due to
face charges in connection with the investigation into the
killing of Portadown man Robert Hamill by loyalists.
The Director of Public Prosecutions' office has confirmed that "a
direction has been issued to prosecute three people, including
one police officer, in relation to offences of perverting the
course of justice in relation to the circumstances surrounding
the death of Robert Hamill".
Although a date has not yet been set for their appearance, Robert
Atkinson - a former RUC man who was "suspended" from the RUC
years ago - and two other people will be summoned to appear
before a court in the near future.
Twenty-five year old Robert Hamill was beaten and kicked in
Portadown town centre in full view of an RUC Land Rover by a mob
of 30 unionists on April 27, 1997. The RUC did nothing to
intervene, nor did they detain anyone at the scene or render
first aid after the attack subsided.
Robert was taken to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital in serious
condition but he fell into a coma and never regained
consciousness. He died 12 days later as a result of his injuries.
His partner was pregnant with their third child at the time.
Eventually, six men were charged with his murder but charges
against five of them were then dropped. The sixth was later
acquitted of murder, being found guilty only of "causing an
affray". He was released from prison in 1999.
It is understood that the current charges relate to an alleged
phone call to a suspect only hours after Robert was attacked.
In November 2000, Police Ombusdsman Nuala O'Loan took over the
investigation into complaints against RUC officers and their
conduct in relation to Robert's killing - a move that was
welcomed by the Hamill family.
The previous year, the Hamill family solicitor, Rosemary Nelson,
was killed in a car bomb outside her home in Lurgan.
The Ombudsman has also investigated claims that the RUC failed to
act on threats made against Rosemary's life, and that several RUC
officers were among those who threatened her.
Prior to her death, Rosemary Nelson stated publically on many
occassions that RUC men often told her she would get "the 1989
treatment" - a veiled reference to the assassination of lawyer
Pat Finucane, in which collusion is also suspected.