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‘PLEASE HELP US FIND OUR LOVED ONES’ KILLERS’

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

‘PLEASE HELP US FIND OUR LOVED ONES’ KILLERS’ thumbnailMarian Beattie

TWO families whose loved ones' murders remain unsolved have made impassioned appeals for information so they can finally find out the truth surrounding their deaths.

Family members of Barney McDonald, a Dungannon taxi driver who was murdered in Donaghmore 16 years ago today (Tuesday) and Portadown teenager Marian Beattie, who was murdered after attending a party in Aughnacloy 45 years ago, have both implored anyone with any information to come forward.

Barney McDonald was murdered on 17th April, 2002 after being lured out to a bogus taxi call at a snooker club in Annaghbeg Park North, Donaghmore.

As he arrived at the club he reversed his silver coloured Toyota Avensis car, with his Taxi sign light up on top, into the drive way of the snooker club, he blew the horn and waited.

At that point, two gun men approached him and shot him at point blank range, through the front and side windows of his car. Barney died instantly.

In a statement, his family said rumours it was a sectarian killing were untrue.

"His absence from our lives is as immense today as it was 16 years ago when he was so brutally taken from us," they said.

"Sixteen years on, we are no closer to the truth about this heinous murder. At the time of Barney's murder, there were people who said this was a sectarian killing. Well, we would like to dispel this rumour. This was not a sectarian murder.

"This was a murder set up by someone who, after the killing, was stood down by the army council of the Provisional IRA who led a mob of gangsters and thugs in Dungannon and the surrounding areas. This gang is still involved in criminality and other sordid deeds.

"These people are known to the PSNI. We are aware that there was information passed on to the PSNI in relation to the murder, which came from within the circles of those involved in the killing, and the PSNI are not acting on this information. Who are the PSNI protecting and why?

And Barney's family have asked anyone with information to "do the right thing... to get justice for Barney".

They said: "There were people who knew prior to this murder that Barney was going to be killed. These were people well known to him. There are others who may have heard stories relating to this murder in casual conversation which may be of significance to our investigations.

These are the people we are appealing to today. We ask you to do the right thing and give us the information we need to get justice for Barney. It's never too late to tell us anything you may know about this abhorrent crime."

 

Aged just 18, Marian Beattie had attended a "Save the Children" charity dance in Hadden's Garage, a large shed halfway between Aughnacloy and Ballygawley on Friday, 30th March 1973 with her older brother and best friend.

She was last seen leaving the dance with a man described as being in his late teens shortly after 1am and heading with the man towards the car park at the top of Hadden's Quarry, just over 400 yards away.

Over five hours later, on the morning of Saturday, 31st March, Marian's body was found at the bottom of the quarry.

Following the 40th anniversary of Marian's murder, the PSNI re-opened the case, however, nobody has ever been charged with Marian's murder and the case remains unsolved.

On the 45th anniversary of her death, the Beattie family went to the scene outside Aughnacloy to lay flowers and light candles.

And her brother Gerard is again asking the public for help in finding his sister's killer.

"I am appealing for people with information to come forward. Marian was a brilliant sister. She was very good to us and my mother and father. She was just a normal, happy girl who never caused any bother. There has been an empty space since she died.

"At Christmas we sent a letter out to be read in the churches and chapels around Aughnacloy and Ballygawley asking people for their help.

"As a result of that we have received some information from people in recent months and we thank them for coming forward and helping us. As this is the time of the 45th anniversary we are appealing for other people to come forward again."

"We are seeking the truth, justice and closure."

Local criminologist Robert Giles has been assisting the family in their search for the truth.

"We believe the answers to this crime lies within the Aughnacloy and South Tyrone area and there are some people out there who can help us take this investigation further forward."

"I would like to re-iterate the words of the PSNI four years ago when Marian's case was last re-opened; we believe there is a man and possibly others who know what happened that night. We urge them to do the right thing and come forward."

"The day after the dance was the day of the Grand National and this may help jog people's memories. Was there anyone acting suspiciously by their behaviour or nature around this period of time?"

"To the people who attended the dance that night, think back did anyone return home from the dance in a distressed or dishevelled state? Or with dust and dirt on their clothes?"

"Who was Marian talking to that night and dancing with? Did you see her leave Hadden's Garage and who was she with? Did you see her at the car park at the top of Hadden's Quarry shortly after 1.15am in the early hours of that Saturday morning?"

"The killer may have confided in people throughout the years such as family members, friends, even workmates about the events of that night.

"If so it cannot be easy for them to have knowledge of this on their conscience. Do they really want to take this to their grave?"

"Forty five years is too long for the Beattie family to go without the answers and closure they deserve but it is not too long for justice to be done and for people to do the right thing."

"Marian's killing was not a sectarian or politically motivated crime. She was just a young girl who was out enjoying herself when her life was taken."

Anyone with information on Marian Beattie's death can contact the Pat Finucane Centre in Armagh in confidence on 028 3751 5191.

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