THE brother of a North Belfast businessman gunned down by loyalist killers in 1987 after refusing to hand over cash to Pat Finucane’s killer has been angered by the announcement of a delay in the investigation of the case.

Thomas McAuley, a 32-year-old married father-of-two, was shot dead by the UDA on the Crumlin Road in November 1987, days after the café-owner was approached by a member of the organisation claiming to be collecting money for loyalist prisoners. The demand was refused.

The man who approached him, Ken Barrett, was later convicted of the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989. Barrett was released in 2006 after serving just three years of a 22-year sentence.

His brother Paul, who’s fighting for the truth about the murder, says a Historical Enquiries Team (HET) investigation showed that leads were not followed up and he believes there was collusion between the RUC and his brother’s killers.

The inquest into Tommy’s death was told the killing was sectarian and heard the automatic pistol used had a 12-year history linked to the paramilitary group.

Now Paul has received a letter from the Police Ombudsman stating the file will not be examined “until next year”.

“I have been pursuing an independent investigation into the murder and for the truth to be told by the British government ever since my brother’s killing,” said Paul.

“I have discussed my concerns regarding the Police Ombudsman’s office and how long it is taking for my brother’s case to be investigated and my lack of confidence in the HET on a number of occasions.

“The investigation has once again been delayed with the letter stating my brother’s file won’t be looked at until next year.

“The delay is just another upsetting thing for me and my family. Until this is resolved, we can’t really move on with our lives,” he added.

The delay comes as the 29th anniversary of Thomas’s killing approaches – he died in the Mater Hospital on November 16, five days after he was shot at his Brookfield Mill café.

“Thomas was just there to serve both sides of the community, that’s just the type of person he was,” added Paul.

“I’ve been fighting to get justice for all these years, including a trip to Brussels. The DUP have never met me. I’ve met various representatives of Sinn Féin and David Ford of the Alliance Party.

“I would like to appeal to anyone who still has information on my brother’s murder and who may have a conscience now to come forward.”