McConville family to be awarded damages

Neil McConville who was shot dead by the PSNI in April 2003.
Neil McConville who was shot dead by the PSNI in April 2003.

The families of six men killed by either police, soldiers or loyalist paramilitaries, are to be awarded £7,500 each in damages.

Among them are the family of Neil McConville who was shot and killed by a PSNI officer after a car chase near Lisburn, County Antrim, in April 2003.

The payments are for unlawful delays in holding inquests, a High Court judge ruled on Tuesday.

Mr Justice Stephens held that compensation was necessary for the frustration, distress and anxiety suffered by the next of kin. His landmark verdict could now open the floodgates for other claims.

Relatives issued proceedings against the coroner and either the PSNI, Police Ombudsman’s Office or Ministry of Defence.

The other cases are:

Pearse Jordan, an IRA man shot and killed by an RUC officer in Belfast on 25 November 1992;

Peter Ryan, one of three IRA men ambushed and shot dead by the SAS in Coagh, County Tyrone, in June 1991;

Catholic man Fergal McCusker, who was kidnapped and shot dead in Maghera, County Londonderry, by loyalist paramilitaries in January 1998. The McCusker family have concerns about collusion between paramilitaries and the state in his death;

James McMenamin, who died after he was knocked down by a PSNI Land Rover on Belfast’s Springfield Road in June 2005;

Stephen Craig Colwell, who was shot dead by police after he failed to stop in a stolen car at a checkpoint in Ballynahinch, County Down, in April 2006.

Lawyers for all six families claimed their human rights had been breached by the failure to examine the circumstances surrounding each death as soon as possible.