Police confirm Kingsmill palm print belongs to suspect arrested in Newry

September 12, 2016

The inquest into the 1976 Kingsmill massacre has been told that a palm print found on a vehicle used in the attack belongs to a 59 year old suspect arrested in Newry last month.

The claim was made during a preliminary hearing at Belfast’s Laganside court on Friday after a lawyer representing relatives of some of the 10 men killed in the atrocity asked for clarity regarding the highly publicised forensic breakthrough.

The arrest of the man in Newry last month, came after police announced in May that they were reopening the Kingsmill investigation following the discovery of the palm print on a getaway van. The man was later released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

Barrister Peter Coll, representing the PSNI, told the Coroner’s Court that the person arrested “is the person that police believe is the palm print.”

“I can confirm that on August 5 detectives from the PSNI’s legacy investigation branch investigating Kingsmill arrested a 59-year-old man on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, “ said Mr Coll.

“He was arrested and questioned on the palm print that there have been some discussions about in the past.

“He was released on August 6 pending a report to the PPS (Public Prosecution Service). The matter rests with the PPS at the minute.”

The inquest was adjourned with the coroner explaining to the families of those killed that he hopes to ascertain if the man will be prosecuted and what the implications will be for the inquest.

The 10 protestant workmen were shot dead when their mini-bus was ambushed near the village of Kingsmill.

They had been asked their religion and the only Catholic was ordered to run away.

The remaining men were then forced to line up outside the van before the gang opened fire.  Bessbrook man Alan Black was the only survivor of the attack.  He had been shot 18 times.

The getaway vehicle was found abandoned across the border and the palm print was discovered later. Forensic scientists re-examined the print in May, one week after a fresh inquest into the murders had begun, and a potential match was found on the police’s database.

It is understood that exact details of  how the discovery was made are to be revealed during private briefings between police and the Kingsmill families next week.

Judge Brian Sherrard, who is presiding over the new inquest, stressed that he was keen for the case to progress.

It also emerged that Judge Sherrard has been asked to consider calling author Toby Harnden as a witness.  The inquest has been adjourned until today (Monday 12th September) when two days have been set aside to deal with sensitive material in the high-profile case.