A NORTH Belfast man fears he may never get justice for his brother, 34 years on from his brutal murder.

Thomas McAuley (32) was shot dead by a loyalist gunman outside his café on the Crumlin Road in November 1987. 

MURDERED: Thomas McAuley

MURDERED: Thomas McAuley

No-one has ever been convicted for the killing of the Ardoyne father-of-two.

Five years ago, the Police Ombudsman looked set to begin an investigation into the murder but after numerous delays, no further progress has been made.

Speaking to the North Belfast News, brother, Paul McAuley said: “Loyalists entered the premises the week before he was murdered looking for money which he refused by telling them he was serving both sides of the community.

“Less than a week later they entered his shop and shot him several times. Tommy did not die straight away but fought for five days in hospital, but his injuries were too severe and he died on November 16, 1987.  

“Tommy was known by both sides of the community for being happy, funny and always loved making his customers laugh and did not deserve what happened to him.

“Since his death, I have been fighting for justice for Tommy and getting nowhere. I have meetings with a number of politicians over the years too.

“I have a complaint in with the Police Ombudsman for the past several years.

“Five years ago they said they were ready to release their findings of Tommy’s murder but this never happened. When I asked they said they had found new information on computer disks that were hidden by the RUC at the time and that they had to go through them in case there was information relating to his case.

“I recently got in touch to see where they are with the investigation and they told me they had put a business plan to the Finance Minister and were waiting on word from him for funding.

“I wrote to the Finance Minister and was told that the funding was secured but the Ombudsman were having issues with recruiting staff.

“There is one excuse after another to delay my brother’s case. They keep putting stuff off and making excuses. It is driving me insane.

“I believe the person that murdered by brother was a police agent and they don’t want the truth to come out.”

A spokesman said the Police Ombudsman’s Office acknowledged the frustration of families and said it was doing everything it could to progress Troubles-related historical investigations.

“Although the Office currently has fewer than 30 investigators engaged in the investigation of historic matters, the Department of Justice has made additional funding available for this area of work during 2021/22 and processes are underway to recruit additional staff. 

“Mr McAuley’s complaint has been consolidated within a wider investigation, scheduled to re-commence in early 2022, which will examine complaints against police officers relating to murders attributed to loyalist paramilitaries. 

“The investigation is unlikely, however, to reach Mr McAuley’s complaint until late 2022/23 with the findings of the wider investigation not being available until at least 2025.”