Folow us on social media

Sign up to our mailing list

Paul Thompson murder: inquest date edges closer

EVIDENCE: Paul Thompson’s brother Eugene and Mike Ritchie of Relatives for Justice study Andersonstown News reports of the murder EVIDENCE: Paul Thompson’s brother Eugene and Mike Ritchie of Relatives for Justice study Andersonstown News reports of the murder
By Ciara Quinn

THE inquest into the controversial death of Paul ‘Topper’ Thompson is expected to get under way next year.

Dermott Hill Road man Paul (25) was shot dead by the UDA in a car in Springfield Park on April 27, 1994.
A fence separating Springfield Park and the loyalist Springmartin estate had been breached shortly before the murder. The playwright Brenda Murphy, who lived on the street at the time, had told the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the RUC that the fence was breached and distributed leaflets alerting residents to the danger.

However, both the NIO and RUC ignored her warning. Later that night, Paul Thompson was accompanying a taxi driver friend after he was called to pick up a fare in Springfield Park, when the vehicle was attacked. He died in the arms of Brenda Murphy. An inquest into the killing was later abandoned after Ms Murphy produced recorded evidence of her calls to the NIO and RUC.

During Paul Thompson’s funeral mass, Holy Trinity parish priest Fr Matt Wallace said repairs to the fence could have prevented his death.

“When news began to filter through that it was Paul Thompson who was the victim of this sectarian attack, the whole community was shocked and stunned and stood about in groups of disbelief,” said the late priest. “All the more so since his death could have been prevented if action had been taken to repair the break in the peace line, as reported by local residents.”

A community inquest held some years later, which was chaired by American judge Andy Summers, found that the RUC had failed to act on the warning. The killing has long been seen as further evidence of state collusion with loyalists.

Relatives for Justice (RFJ) caseworker Mike Ritchie said the family are determined to be as fully prepared as possible for the inquest and are keen to locate aerial photographs taken at the time showing the murder scene.

“The next step is that we wait to hear from Mrs Justice Keegan, somewhere between Halloween and Christmas, she will allocate which cases will be heard in the first year, 2020,” said Mike. “This is the first inquest into Paul’s death.

“We’re anxious to be well prepared for the inquest. We have news clippings but are keen to find the location of these particular aerial photographs and literature that was prepared for the community inquiry also. This can be brought to the RFJ offices for photocopy.”

Paul’s brother Eugene told the Andersonstown News that he was 26 when his younger brother was murdered.

“I was a year and a half older than our Paul. There was only me and him. Our mum passed 10 years after Paul, in 2004. To be honest with you, see after Paul?, my ma was just waiting to die. She was never the same after that.”

Eugene spoke about how in the days leading up to Paul’s death Brenda Murphy made repeated calls to the RUC to say about the gap in the fence.

“What we have heard over the years is that the messages were garbled, hard to make out, or that the tapes had got lost or chewed up.”

The St Peter’s pupil was described by his brother as a “sound fella, one of a kind”.

“He only lived until he was 25 and people, his friends, still remember him now.”

Eugene said he welcomes the fact the case has got to the inquest stage and paid tribute to Mike Ritchie and his RFJ colleagues.

“Without RFJ, Mike, and Mark Thompson I’d be nowhere. When I’ve been at court, Mike has been there. Their staff are brilliant and we will continue to fight for Paul. There is no doubt there was collusion between the RUC and loyalists that

Please follow and like us: