Page last updated at 18:37 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 19:37 UK

Police 'could have saved victim'

Robert Hamill
Mr Hamill died 11 days after being beaten in Portadown

A police officer has told the Robert Hamill murder inquiry that the 25-year-old might not have died had he and three other officers acted differently.

Alan Neill was the driver of an RUC Land Rover parked just yards from where Mr Hamill, a Catholic, was assaulted by loyalists in Portadown in April 1997.

The inquiry into his death centres around claims that Mr Neill and the other officers failed to intervene.

However, he rejected accusations the officers sat and watched the attack.

Mr Neill said Mr Hamill was attacked as the officers were breaking up fights between rival factions.

He also rejected a suggestion by a lawyer for Mr Hamill's family that he had made that story up to disguise the fact that police had not intervened.

But he said, with hindsight, he regretted not having done things differently and admitted that Mr Hamill might not have died if he and his fellow officers had got out of their vehicle earlier.

Brid Rodgers
Former SDLP deputy leader Brid Rodgers was asked to testify

Former SDLP deputy leader Brid Rodgers also gave evidence to the inquiry on Tuesday.

In her testimony, Ms Rodgers said a police sergeant in Portadown told her that the four officers had been afraid to get out of the Land Rover because there were not enough reinforcements available.

Ms Rodgers was called to the inquiry after witness Donald Keys last week said she had attended Portadown police station a number of hours after Mr Hamill was attacked.

No-one has been convicted of his killing.

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