Inquest into (Liam) Paul ‘Topper’ Thompson’s death resumesApril 3, 2023
The inquest into the death of Paul ‘Topper’ Thompson resumes today (3 April 2023) at Banbridge Courthouse and is listed for three days of preliminary hearings.
His only surviving next-of-kin, his brother, Eugene Thompson, welcomes this development as it been 29 years since his brother was murdered and there has never been an official independent effective investigation into this death.
Paul was killed at or about 11.30pm on 27 April 1994 in Springfield Park, West Belfast. He was 25 years old.
He was shot dead in a ‘Grab-a-Cab’ taxi whilst being given a lift home by an employee, who was himself injured in the attack. His family considers that there is evidence to suggest that the calls to and from Grab-a-Cab were monitored by a scanning device used by loyalist paramilitaries and has since expressed concerns that the call for a ‘pick up’ in Springfield Park that evening may have been a deliberate decoy. The weapon used was a sub-machine gun that has been linked to 5 attempted killings over the period 1990 to 1993.
Prior to the Paul’s death, his family claim that he was subject to police harassment and believe that the RUC had evidence that the taxi firm, Grab-a-Cab, was the subject of a credible threat.
Prior to his death, members of the community in Springfield Park had been subjected to regular attacks conducted by loyalist paramilitaries. The community, including his family, consider that the RUC and other state agencies, including the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), were aware of these attacks and the method by which these paramilitary groups entered Springfield Park was known to both the RUC and the NIO.
On the morning of 27 April 1994, residents claim that they notified the RUC, NIO and their Member of Parliament (MP) that the ‘peace line’ separating Springfield Park and Springmartin Road had been compromised by the creation of a hole and no action was taken to either repair it or provide security for the members of the community, even though it was known that the area was subject to regular attacks by loyalist paramilitaries.
Calls for a public inquiry were refused, and a ‘Community Public Inquiry’ was held in September 1994 into the circumstances of Paul’s death, involving international jurists and lawyers, including Judge Andrew Somers, Gareth Pierce, Judge Dan Coburn, Richard O’Meara, Dr Ray Murphy, Tom Fox, and Angela Ritchie. Documents were reviewed, statements were taken, evidence heard, submissions received, and a report produced in 1995.
Eugene, Paul’s brother said: “It is 29 years since my brother was murdered and it has been a long journey since the first inquest hearing was adjourned in 1995. As we come up to the anniversary of my brother’s death, I think of my mother who spent the remaining years of her life fighting to get answers about why Paul died. I will continue this fight until we learn the circumstances of what happened my brother.”
Eugene is represented in these inquest proceedings by Monye Anyadike-Danes KC, Sinead Kyle BL, and Gemma McKeown, Solicitor at CAJ.
Gemma McKeown said: “We welcome the resumption of this inquest given the extensive delays it has faced and given that there has never been an official effective investigation into this death that happened 29 years ago.”
Please direct media enquiries to Robyn Scott, Communications & Equality Coalition Coordinator, on email@example.com or 028 9031 6000.