Gardaí baffled at British failure to progress Oliver murder probe

Gardaí baffled at British failure to progress Oliver murder probe

Former chief constable Jon Boutcher, left, with Tom Oliver's son Eugene at the family farm on the Cooley peninsula, Co Louth, in 2021, when he said new evidence had been uncovered. Picture: Arthur Carron/PA

Gardaí who reinvestigated the murder of Tom Oliver and handed their file over to British police in 2018 are 'baffled' at the lack of progress in the case. 

The gardaí involved believed they had assembled a strong case that would have led to arrests north and south of the border if they had access to the forensic and ballistic evidence from the scene where Mr Oliver’s body was found in Co Armagh. 

When they approached the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) seeking co-operation, they were told the matter was being handled by the legacy crimes investigation, Kenova. 

Following that, the gardaí co-operated with Kenova and handed over their investigation file but there has been little progress in the case since.

Tom Oliver was abducted from his home on the Cooley peninsula in Co Louth in July 1991 and his body was found in Beleek, Co Armagh, the following day. 
Tom Oliver was abducted from his home on the Cooley peninsula in Co Louth in July 1991 and his body was found in Beleek, Co Armagh, the following day. 

“If they had given us the file of evidence from the scene, arrests would have been made,” a source close to the Garda investigation said. “And having given them what we had assembled, we believe there was enough there for them to make arrests. 

It’s very disappointing, baffling even, that it doesn’t appear to have been advanced over the last four years.

Mr Oliver was abducted from his home on the Cooley peninsula in Co Louth in July 1991. 

His body was found in Beleek, Co Armagh, the next day. 

The following week, the Provisional IRA claimed responsibility for his murder, saying that he was an informer, a charge his family has always denied. 

The murder sparked revulsion in Co Louth, where the father of seven was a popular figure, and led to public protests against the IRA. Nobody has ever been charged with his murder.

New evidence

Last year, the head of Kenova, Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, was interviewed on RTÉ on Mr Oliver’s farm, where he stated that new evidence in the case has been uncovered. 

He also mentioned that there were retired gardaí the investigation wished to talk to but these men were not co-operating. 

The Irish Examiner has learned that these retired officers had already been interviewed by the gardaí and were peripheral to the murder investigation. 

“It’s disappointing that that is where Kenova is going when there is credible stuff in there to advance the case,” the source said.

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