Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Man (60) charged with 1994 murder of postman

A 60-year-old man has been charged with the murder of a postman in Newry almost 25 years ago.

James Seamus Fox, of Carewamean Road, Jonesborough appeared at Newry Magistrates Court on Friday morning last, accused of killing Camlough man Frank Kerr who was shot dead during a bungled robbery at Newry Sorting Office in November 1994.

Fox was further charged with the theft of £131,000, possession of a firearm and membership of a proscribed organisation in 1994, namely the IRA.

When asked, the accused confirmed that he understood the charges.

A detective inspector told the court that Fox had voluntarily presented himself to police but had remained silent during questioning.

The court heard that Fox had been a suspect at the time of the murder, but that the police investigation had been “fraught with difficulties” as he was then living in the Republic of Ireland.

Outlining the background of the case, the detective said Mr Kerr had challenged the gunmen – some of whom were wearing Post Office uniforms – when they entered the sorting office and, during an ensuing scuffle, three shots were fired, one of which struck Mr Kerr in the neck, fatally wounding him.

The detective revealed DNA evidence linking Fox to the attack was retrieved from postal workers’ clothing recovered from a car stopped by police in Meigh shortly after the attack.  

Frank Kerr died during the bungled armed robbery. 

Two occupants of the car were charged with assisting in the murder but in 1996 the case against them collapsed due to lack of evidence, at which time the pair had spent almost two years in jail.

At Friday’s court hearing, Fox’s defence lawyer told the court his client had voluntarily presented himself to police for questioning, adding that he had known since April the case had been due to happen, and had not made any attempt to leave the jurisdiction.

He described his client as a “well known supporter” of the peace process, is involved with his local GAA club and had been active in supporting police through the District Policing Partnership (DPP).

James Fox appeared at Newry Magistrates Court on Friday charged with the 1994 murder of postman Frank Kerr.

District Judge Eamon King granted bail with a number of conditions, including residing at the address given in court and reporting to his closest police station three times a week.

Prosecution, however, objected to bail being granted and lodged an appeal which will be heard at Belfast High Court early this week.  Until the outcome of the appeal is decided, Fox will remain in custody.

At the time, the murder of 53-year-old Frank Kerr, a single man who was popular and well respected in his home village of Camlough, sent shockwaves through the community, coming just months after the IRA ceasefire.  The organization initially moved to distance itself from the killing but later admitted some of its members were involved and promised to carry out a full investigation, blaming “a fault in its chain of command” for the attack.