Widows settle collusion cases against MOD & PSNI

Two widows, whose husbands were murdered by the UDA in separate incidents in 1976, have accepted substantial settlements in cases brought against the MOD & PSNI.

Mary Loughrey, widow of Jim Loughrey, and Marie Newton, widow of John Toland, settled their cases for an undisclosed six figure sum.

The two families commenced civil proceedings following the publication of reports by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

The HET confirmed that the UDA gang that murdered John Toland and Jim Loughrey included members of the UDR and a former member of the RUC. This gang was also involved in the murders of Michael McHugh in Castlederg and Kevin Mulhern in Derry, and the attempted murder of another.

In relation to the murder of John Toland the report states ‘the HET concludes that it is likely that there was collusion between individual members of the security forces and those responsible for John’s murder.”

In relation to the murder of Jim Loughrey, the HET concluded that ‘collusion could not be ruled out.’

The families are represented by Padraig O'Muirigh solicitors.

Sara Duddy from the PFC

“Following the findings of the HET Report, the Toland and Loughrey families initiated civil proceedings against the Ministry of Defence. The PSNI were later added to the proceedings.

This settlement is a positive outcome for two widows and two families devastated by these murders over forty years ago. Both widows had large, young families, and the emotional and financial impacts caused by Jim and John’s murder’s are still felt to this day. This settlement goes some way to acknowledge the hurt caused. It is a disappointing that other families will not be afforded the same opportunity to pursue this course of action due to the shameful Legacy Act that stops civil actions.”


Statement from Marie Newton, John Toland’s widow

‘My name is Marie Newton. I met John Toland when I was seventeen years old.

We fell in love, but my mother made me wait until I was nineteen years old before I was allowed to marry him.

John was such a happy person, he was the happiest person on this planet. He adored his family and his home. He never stopped working. Me and John had our lives planned. We wanted a whole gang of children, and we also wanted to work as hard as we could so that we could give them the best life.

Although John was a Catholic, he never once said to me that he felt uncomfortable or uneasy in Eglington. There were never any issues with the customers, many of which were RUC men. John never ever said to me that he felt unsafe. He would just treat them as he treated everyone.

John felt safe as he wasn’t involved in anything, he was working from he was 14 and that was his life. John was a respected member of the community, and I thought they idolised him.

It is hard to describe the devastation of John’s murder on my life and the lives of my children. He had done everything for us, he took care of everything, and I was completely lost without him.

I knew it was loyalist responsible for the murder. They said something like John was giving information the IRA- it was completely untrue. Glenn Barr, who was in the UDA, was a regular in the bar. He used to drink there with his wife. Glenn came out and publicly condemned the murder and said John was innocent. I was very pleased that he did this, but I was sure that by standing up and saying this against his own, that he would have been targeted then.

I believe John was targeted because they didn’t like seeing a catholic doing so well, running the bar and thriving. I think they wanted one of their own running the place, and that’s where the resentment came from.

John had managed all our money. My boys, who were just young children, became the men of the house and left school to go to work. They missed out on their education and future because of what happened.

I could live through every second of that time. I can feel exactly what I felt back then. I remember every moment of it. The devastation was unbearable.’


Statement from Johnny Loughrey, Jim Loughrey’s son

“Dad was raised and went to school in Portstewart. He left school after secondary level, and followed in his father’s footsteps when he enlisted to the Enniskilling Fusiliers, a local regiment of the British Army. During his time in the army he demonstrated leadership skills and rose to the rank of Corporal.

It was when stationed with the army at Eglinton that Dad met our mother, Mary O’Kane. Our Mum has fond memories of her early romance with Dad. After a two-year courtship, the couple married in 1960.  The family would grow over the years ahead, until they had eight children, five girls and three boys.

Dad’s interests were varied, and he enjoyed reading, gaelic football and soccer. He had an interest in world politics and was known to be a fan of John F Kennedy. He was also interested in human rights and civil rights, and had been a workers’ union activist, taking on the role of Shop Steward on a couple of occasions.

Dad was an attentive husband and father. He was a believer in spending quality time with his family, to some extent before the term was truly invented.

The immediate impact of Dad’s murder on our family was both shocking and dramatic. Aside from the obvious grief, the trauma from being there and watching our Dad being shot in the kitchen of the family home had a devastating effect. Psychological supports were not available at this time and each of the children suffered terrible mental and physical manifestations of the trauma.

One of the most immediate and ongoing negative impacts of Dad’s death was on our education. Several of us were forced to change schools because we were no longer able to pay for books, uniforms and other necessities needed for our previous schools. Attending university after leaving school also became a practical impossibility.

As a family we often talk about life without Dad and the loss of everyday experiences that a child has with their father while growing up, things that other families took for granted. We continued to feel the loss as adults, missing out on profound experiences such as my five sisters not having their father present at their weddings to give the bride away or make the father of the bride speeches as was the tradition, or my brothers and I never having our father there to see our achievements when playing football and soccer.

Even more profound was the loss of a grandfather to our children, and a great grandfather to our children’s children. Our Mum still feels the loss of Dad emotionally, and says that she still misses him every day. Mum struggled to raise her eight children as a single parent with often little or no money. The hardships from this took its toll both physically and emotionally.

The loss of Dad casts a long shadow over our family and will continue to do so for generations to come. Our lives, while happy and fulfilled at times, have been dominated by the grief and trauma caused by the murder of our Dad.”


Background to the cases

Jim Loughrey (36) was shot several times at his home in Greysteel by UDA gunmen, on the evening of November 14th 1976. Two gunmen entered the home and shot him twelve times in front of his wife and all of his eight young children. Jim died 11 days later on the 25th November as a result of his injuries.

The Ulster Freedom Fighters, a cover named used by the UDA, later admitted responsibility, stating it was in retaliation for the IRA murder a UDR man weeks earlier.

John Toland (36) was married to Marie, and they had seven children. John was managing the Happy Landings Bar in Eglinton, when, at approximately 5.50pm on 22nd November 1976, two gunmen entered the bar. While one stood watch, the other shot John in the back multiple times. John was declared dead shortly afterwards.

The UFF also claimed responsibility for John’s murder.

Findings of the HET

Both families engaged with the HET with the support of the Pat Finucane Centre. They received reports concerning the murders in 2012.  According to the report into the murder of John Toland:

"the HET concludes that it is likely that there was collusion between individual members of the security forces and those responsible for John’s murder".


A former RUC member who was convicted in relation to another murder admitted that he knew about the planning for the murder of John Toland. He was not charged.

A serving member of the UDR, David Hamilton, pleaded guilty to the charge of the unlawful possession of the revolver used in the murder of John Toland and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. This was the same weapon used in the murder of Jim Loughrey. The judge at the trial stated at the trial that Hamilton was “not on the fringes” and he used his membership of the UDR to enable him to transport guns.

The HET found evidence that John’s murder was planned and ordered by the then UDA Commander in Derry at the time who intended that the UDA would take over the Happy Landing Bar following John’s murder. This man, a former B Special according to the HET, also ordered the murder of John Toland. Information available also suggests this man was also a former Royal Marine Commando. He also ordered Jim Loughrey’s murder.

The HET stated that intelligence records show during the period covering the murders of John Toland, James Loughrey and others there were reported associations between the UDA Commander in Derry and members of the UDR and a former member of the RUC.

The UDA Commander in Derry at the time of these murders was never questioned about any of these allegations.

Jim Loughrey

Jim Loughrey, was shot and seriously injured at his home in Greysteel on November 14 1976. He died 11 days later on November 25th. Jim was shot just days before the murder of John Toland nearby in Eglinton. No-one was ever convicted for his murder. In 2012 the family received a HET report, though they remain unhappy with the main conclusions in that report.

Jim Loughrey was killed by the same loyalist gang that carried out a number of murders in this area at the time. One of the guns used to shoot him was used in the murder of John Toland and others. A UDR member, David Hamilton, was convicted of possession of this weapon. One of the gunmen who shot Jim Loughrey was also involved in the murder of John Toland.

UDA Commander in Derry

The UDA Commander in Derry at the time, unnamed by the HET, is described as ‘suspect 1’ by the HET. He was alleged to have ordered and planned the murder according to a loyalist prisoner who, in 1986, made a number of allegations and admissions during a series of interviews. Campbell’s evidence was found to be substantially reliable and led to a number of convictions.

The person named by Campbell as having planned and organised Jim’s murder was the officer commanding the UDA in Derry. This person was also named as being involved in the murder of Michael McHugh in Castlederg on 21st January 1977. We understand this person, referred to by the HET as ‘Suspect 1’, to be Andy Robinson as he was UDA Commander in Derry at that time.

According to the HET the unnamed UDA leader,

"has never been arrested or questioned by police about any of the murders he was implicated in by Campbell."

Robinson’s details were placed on the Police National Computer as wanted in connection with direct involvement in another murder outside Derry city, yet he was never questioned over the years. It is unclear when Robinson left the Northern Ireland, but the HET has confirmed that he travelled back and forth to the North and "extensively throughout the world" where he "… lived in a number of countries."

A number of publications reported that he was running a B&B in Portpatrick, Scotland as late as 2006, yet he was never questioned. That is twenty years after he was circulated as wanted for questioning.

Andy Robinson was also included in the UDA delegation that visited Libya in 1974.

PFC have uncovered declassified British government documents including notes of a meeting held in Laneside[1] on 6th January 1975 with Mr Glenn Barr (note dated 8th January 1975) that states the following:

“He (Mr Barr) understood that Mr Andy Tyrie was going that evening to try to sort out differences between the East and West UDA. He himself had fallen out with Mr Andy Robinson, the UDA Commander of the Londonderry district.[2]



[1] A discrete house in North Down where the British government’s representative resided and worked.

[2] NAUK CJ4 3734