Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

PSNI apologises for forensic errors in Kingsmill probe

A series of errors in the forensic investigation into the Kingsmill massacre meant a palm print found on the getaway vehicle was not matched to a prime suspect, it has emerged.

The PSNI has apologized to the bereaved families for overlooking the key piece of evidence after it emerged that police and forensic scientists failed at least three times to identify the print and match it with the suspect whom the PSNI now believes it belongs to.

It has been reported that Gardaí failed to match the recovered palm print with the suspect in 2010, and a forensic scientist employed by the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team wrongly marked the suspect’s palm print as negative in 2010 and 2014.

The victims’ families have accused investigators of “breathtaking incompetence” and are considering bringing in their own independent forensic science expert to review the entire case.

The PSNI apologised to the families for the forensic errors and said it fully accepts their “concerns and frustrations”.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, head of the PSNI’s Legacy and Justice Department, said that police had met the families “as part of our commitment to being open and transparent”.

He added: “We fully accept the concerns and frustrations felt by the families in relation to how this atrocity has been investigated, particularly the mistakes that have been made in relation to the identification of the palm-print.

“We apologise again for the errors but we would reassure them we remain committed to supporting the ongoing inquest and playing our part in securing truth and justice for everyone involved.”

The palm print was found on a window of the getaway van, three days after the attack on 5th January 1976. More than 40 years later, when the inquest into the killings opened in May of this year, the print was identified as belonging to a 59-year-old man.  The suspect was arrested last month in the Newry area and questioned by detectives. He was released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).