Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 17:05 UK

Hamill suspect had 'RUC contact'

Robert Hamill
Robert Hamill was beaten to death

Phone records show that a reserve police constable was in contact with a murder case suspect, the Robert Hamill Inquiry has heard.

Mr Hamill died 11 days after he was kicked and beaten by a loyalist crowd in Portadown town centre in April 1997.

The detail emerged during evidence given by a senior detective in charge of the initial investigation into the attack.

The detective was known only as P39 after she was granted anonymity.

She said the decision to examine the phone records of the two men was made after a witness made a statement to police on 9 May, the day after Mr Hamill died.

"I definitely knew that once we got that intelligence, we wanted to pursue it," said the detective.

A request for access to the records was then made by the detective and a colleague who had taken over the supervision of the case when it became a murder inquiry.

Contact

"The evidence from Witness A said that the reserve constable (Robert Atkinson) was in touch with (Allister) Hanvey on a daily basis and that the phone billing did not show this," said P39.

"I know contact was made on 27 April," she added.

The information was included in a case file investigating a complaint of neglect brought by the Hamill family, but not included in the murder case file, the inquiry heard.

The detective said that when a new officer took over the murder investigation, he said references to the connection between the police officer and suspect should not be included in the investigation records file.

"I was therefore selective about what entries I made in the policy book," she said.

The detective also told the inquiry she had destroyed her journal, detailing all her work as an RUC detective, when she retired from the police in 1998.

She said she was not aware of any guidance from the RUC that she should have kept it.

When questioned by the lawyer for the Hamill family about whether it would not have been "proper to leave the journal" with the detectives investigating the murder, she said that would have been "unheard of".

"For security reasons, I did not have anything to do with police work in the house", she said.



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