A 22-year-old Portadown man has been cleared of the murder of Portadown father of three Robert Hamill. The judge in Belfast High Court told Paul Hobson that proof of his involvement in the murder fell far short of the required standard. However, he convicted the accused of unlawful fighting and causing an affray and sentenced him to four years imprisonment. During his judgement, Mr. Justice McCollum described his killing as a sectarian attack in which a very large group of Loyalists attacked a small number of nationalists.
He criticised the RUC for failing to anticipate the attack, but commended the officers for their intervention, which, he said, prevented further attacks. The judge could not decide whether the RUC men had stayed in their land rover during the attack. The judge said that the behaviour of the RUC officers in relation to this sectarian attack did not reflect on their commitment to duty.
Friends and relatives of the dead man had accused the RUC officers in a Land Rover of doing nothing to prevent or stop the attack. However, Lord Justice McCollum said even if the RUC had intervened at the earliest possible moment it was unlikely they could have saved his life. Robert Hamill's sister, Diane, was in court for the judgement along with other relatives. She is expected to speak to the media within the next hour.