Quoting from the Barron Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow. Published 3 November 2005:
THE GARDA INVESTIGATION
1. EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS
2. THE FORENSIC INVESTIGATION
3. INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION
Discovery of the body:
Seamus Ludlow’s body was found at about 3 p.m., lying on a briar-covered bank atthe side of a narrow lane, about 3.5 miles from Dundalk town. The Garda report described the location as follows:
"To gain access thereto, one would travel 2.5 miles from Dundalk along themain Dundalk / Newry Road, turn right at Thistle Cross down a road known locally as the Bog Road, for a distance of about one mile. At this point a laneway measuring a distance of four-tenths of a mile is located to the left of this road as one approaches from Thistle Cross. The body of the deceased was found lying on some hedging on the right hand side of this laneway about ten yards down. The rear entrance to Ballymascanlon Hotel is located about 100 yards further along the Bog Road."7
The position in which the body was found suggested that it had been thrown thereafter the deceased was killed.
The two persons who discovered the body left the area immediately and reported it toGardaí in Dundalk at 3.16 p.m. A radio message was then sent to Sgt Jim Gannon, who was in a patrol car near the area along with another Garda officer. The two men arrived at the scene at 3.20 p.m., found the body and contacted Dundalk Garda station. Within minutes, other Gardaí arrived. The area was sealed off and traffic diversions set up.
At 4.30 p.m., the scene was visited by a priest from Dundalk. At 5 p.m., a doctor fromDundalk visited the scene and confirmed that the victim was dead.
Members of Seamus Ludlow’s family had been out looking for him since themorning. At 5.15 p.m. his brother Kevin Ludlow was stopped by Gardaí at the entrance to the Bog Road:
"He stopped me and told me I couldn’t go up because there was a bit of anaccident. The Guard then explained that it wasn’t really an accident, but that a body had been found. I explained about my brother being missing and he said then I could go on… As soon as I saw the body I knew it was Seamus and said ‘That’s poor Seamus alright’."8
Background of the deceased:
Seamus Ludlow lived in a house at Thistle Cross, along with his sister, AnnieSharkey, her husband and their ten children. His mother also lived with them.
He had spent his working life as a labourer in various situations. At the time of hisdeath, he was employed in a local sawmill at Ravensdale Wood, Dundalk. He was said by family, friends and colleagues to have been a quiet, unassuming man whose life revolved around work and home. His social life consisted of regular visits to various pubs in Dundalk and occasionally to the Border Inn, Carrickcarnan. Although comfortable in company, it was said that he usually drank alone. On Saturdays, when he got a half-day from work, he would usually head straight to the Border Inn; arriving home any time between 6 and 9 p.m. If he did not do that, he would usually go into Dundalk in the evening.
He was also known in Dundalk for his charitable work: for many years he acted as ‘Santa Claus’ for children in a Dundalk housing estate.
Other than a preference for the Fine Gael party, Seamus Ludlow had no knownpolitical affiliations, and nothing whatsoever to connect him with any subversive organisation. In fact, members of his family recalled that he was firmly opposed to the IRA and similar groups, and regularly made this known to his teenage nieces and nephews.
Movements of the deceased:
It was established that the deceased was working at the sawmill on Saturday, 1 May1976 until lunchtime. He arrived home at about 2 p.m. and had a light meal. He left the house at 3 p.m., saying he was going to the Lisdoo Arms, Dundalk for a few drinks.
He remained at the Lisdoo Arms until about 9.15 p.m., when he left in the company ofone John Dunne. The two men went to the Horse and Hound pub, Linenhall St, Dundalk for one drink, then left to go to the Vine, another pub in the town. John Dunne left there at about 11.15 p.m. A number of witnesses recalled the deceased drinking in the Vine until 11.30 p.m. One witness said they saw him leaving at around that time. He was alone.
According to family members, friends and others who knew him, it was his usualpractice to ‘thumb’ a lift home. The manager of the Lisdoo Arms told Gardaí:
"I often saw him thumbing lifts out to his house at the Lisdoo Arms and also atNewry Bridge. He very seldom asked anyone for a lift home, even if someone from near him was in the bar. He seemed to prefer to thumb."9
A number of witnesses, including some who knew him well, told Gardaí that they saw him in the vicinity of Newry Bridge at various times between 11.50 p.m. and 12.15 a.m. On the other hand, other witnesses who knew the deceased and who crossed Newry Bridge before or after midnight stated that they did not see him there.
No one claimed to have seen him being offered or accepting a lift; but as there were no sightings of him in the Newry Bridge area after 12.30 a.m., it seems reasonable to suppose that he had been picked up by that time.
According to the investigation report, there was a Garda checkpoint in operation near the Newry Bridge during the relevant time. Registration numbers of cars noted during this time were followed up (mostly with the RUC) but nothing emerged to connect any of them with the murder.
The Garda investigation team went to considerable lengths in their efforts to trace the deceased’s movements on the night in question. Every household on the main and ancillary roads from Newry Bridge to the Border was visited and questionnaire forms were filled out:
"In all, 1,700 questionnaires were completed and processed, but nothing of value was obtained which gave any indication as to how or what time the deceased was picked up, or as to how or what time his body was placed in the position in which it was later found."10
On the night of 1 May 1976 there was a dance in progress at the Ballymascanlon Hotel, a short distance from the place where the body was found. The dance finished at 1.30 a.m., and a number of people were found to have left the hotel by the rear entrance and travelled along the Bog Road to Thistle Cross, passing the lane where the body was in the process. Four witnesses claimed to have seen a car parked near the lane entrance; but this was contradicted by the evidence of a number of other witnesses. Gardaí re-interviewed three of the witnesses who said they did not see a car, and were satisfied they were telling the truth. The investigation report concluded:
"Without prejudice to the veracity of either party as to whether a car was parked there or not, further enquiries to clear up this point proved negative."11
One week after the murder, on the night of 8 May, 35 Gardaí mounted checkpoints at various points along the Dundalk / Newry road between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. This was with a view to interviewing any motorists who may have travelled the same route on the night of the murder. In all, about 1,400 cars were stopped; but no positive information resulted from these inquiries.
THE FORENSIC INVESTIGATION
The State Pathologist, Dr. John Harbison arrived at the scene of the murder at 7.55p.m. on 2 May 1976. He carried out a preliminary examination of the body prior to itsremoval to the Morgue at Dundalk District Hospital, where a full post-mortem was carried out. He described his initial impression of the scene as follows:
"I saw the body of a middle aged male lying on top of a grassy bank beside thelaneway with his head uppermost. His feet were on the side of the bank over some briars away from the laneway… The man was clothed in a shirt and pullover, with an overcoat and jacket thrown over the body. The right arm was extended, with the hand lying also among briars and nettles on top of the bank. The body lay on its back…
Preliminary inspection of the body revealed the shirt and pullover pulled upoff the abdomen…"
It was clear from the presence of bullet-holes in the jacket and overcoat that thedeceased had been wearing them when he was shot: someone (presumably the killers) must have taken them off after he was dead.
As the body was taken down from the bank, a bullet fell from the clothing. SgtGannon picked it up and showed it to Dr Harbison before handing it to D/Garda Michael Niland, Ballistics Section, Technical Bureau.
The post-mortem proper was begun at 12.20 a.m.. The clothing was removed andexamined by Dr Harbison before being handed to D/Garda Niland. In the course of this, a second bullet was discovered in the deceased’s clothes. This was also taken possession of by D/Garda Niland.
Dr Harbison then examined the wounds to the body and concluded that the deceasedhad died from shock and haemorrhage as a result of bullet wounds in his heart, right lung and liver. These wounds came from three shots. The fatal shot – that to the heart – came horizontally from the front, from a point slightly to the left of the deceased. The other two shots also came from the front, but much more to the left.
A third bullet was extracted from the victim’s chest by Dr Harbison, and handed toD/Garda Niland. Two samples of blood from the body were also taken: one was kept by Dr Harbison; the other given to Dr Jim Donovan at the State Laboratory.12
Examination of the scene:
The immediate scene and surrounding area were examined by officers from theBallistics, Fingerprint, Photographic and Mapping sections of the Technical Bureau. The lack of blood stains where the body was found, together with the fact that the deceased’s shoes were clean, suggested that he was shot elsewhere – possibly in a car – before being thrown on top of the hedgerow at the side of the laneway.
The three bullets found in the body and clothing of the deceased were examined byD/Garda Niland, who concluded:
"All these bullets… are copper-jacketed revolver bullets of .38 inch calibre ofa type known as .38 Smith & Wesson, and all were discharged from the same firearm."13
The investigation report stated:
"These bullets were later brought by D/Gda Niland to the Data ReferenceCentre, Belfast for comparison with their files to establish if they had a similar pattern on record. This comparison proved negative."
There is no further statement by D/Garda Niland in Garda files, but a handwrittennote found in a notebook belonging to D/Inspector John Courtney would appear to suggest that the bullets did not remain in Belfast, but were simply photographed for future reference. The note referred to the three bullets and the circumstances in which they were found, and then stated:
"Data Reference Centre, Herbie Donnelly, photographed and reorded[recorded?] them, on 11/5/76."
One of the two persons who discovered the body also found a key on the groundnearby. Attempts by Gardaí to trace ownership of it were unsuccessful. According to the investigation report, the condition of the key when it was found suggested that it might have been at the scene for some time.
A hand-drawn map of the murder scene, found in the archives of the TechnicalBureau, showed two other items – a man’s black leather glove (right hand) and a bag of dry bread. There was no reference to these items in the investigation report. Their significance, if any, cannot be assessed at this remove.14
7Investigation Report, 21 May 1976.
8 Statement of Kevin Ludlow, 6 May 1976.
9 Statement dated 3 May 1976.
10 Investigation Report, 21 May 1976.
12 Post-Mortem Report of Dr. J.F.A. Harbison, State Pathologist.
13 Statement of D/Garda M. Niland, 18 May 1976.
14 A former member of the Fingerprint Section has told the Inquiry that fingerprints were also found ontwo chip bags, but there is no mention of this in the available Garda documentation. See below p.68.
SUPPORT THE SEAMUS LUDLOW APPEAL FUNDBank of Ireland 78 Clanbrassil Street Dundalk County Louth Ireland
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