10 June 2005


Witnesses come forward in PSNI road death

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Jim McMenamin - killed by the PSNI

AN Eyewitness has claimed that the PSNI Land Rover responsible for the death of Jim McMenamin was speeding and had no siren on before the fatal collision.

The investigation into the death of the 29-year-old Glenalina man also took an unexpected twist during the week as a mysterious taxi became embroiled in the investigation.

Jim McMenamin was knocked down by the PSNI vehicle on the Upper Springfield Road as he made his way home from a night out in Gort na Mona GAC in the early hours of Saturday morning.

A married couple who came across the scene of the death with their two daughters have come forward to the Andersonstown News with fresh information about the incident and the presence of a private taxi. The family wish to remain anonymous, although they have spoken to the McMenamin family directly and confirmed that they will provide a statement to the office of the Police Ombudsman.

Just after 1am on Saturday morning the West Belfast man travelled down the Upper Springfield Road to pick up his wife from a party in Caulfield’s bar near the junction of the Whiterock Road and the Upper Springfield Road. At this stage, he could confirm that no incident had taken place. Just before his wife and their two daughters were collected a PSNI Land Rover drove up the road.

The man thought that the PSNI vehicle was driving at a considerable speed and without its headlights on. “The police were coming up the Upper Springfield Road, horsing up it. There was only one jeep. It had no headlights on, nor a siren, just the blue light flashing.”

He estimated that the vehicle was traveling at “easily 60mph”.

His wife and their children got into the car and they drove back up the Upper Springfield Road in the direction of the Monagh By-pass Travellers’ site. When they arrived at the scene of Jim McMenamin’s death, near the entrance to the laneway of Gort na Mona GAC, they saw the police vehicle had stopped, with the rear of the jeep on the left lane countrywards, and the front of the vehicle on the diagonal white lines in the centre of the road. Also in the partition was a private taxi, a Volkswagen Passat, with its rear door open.

“At first I thought that the peelers had rammed the taxi,” said the man. “I saw a peeler sitting at the back of the jeep and he looked like he was in shock. He was as green as his shirt. Jim’s body was lying on the right hand lane as you go up the Upper Springfield Road. It was obvious he was dead, as they had put a coat over him. His legs and lower body were twisted.”

The Andersonstown News can reveal that the taxi driver has since contacted both the family and the Police Ombudsman about what he witnessed.

A spokesperson for the Police Ombudsman’s office said, “We have spoken to a number of people who were in the taxi. It was not involved in the collision and they would not have been required to stay at the scene.

“We continue to investigate the circumstances of this incident and to liaise with the McMenamin family.”

Speaking yesterday, Jim’s uncle, Eamonn Stott, encouraged any one who saw anything on the night of the tragedy to contact the Police Ombudsman, or if they had reservations, to contact the family.

“The Ombudsman have told us that they have taken the vehicle away for tests, including mechanical tests. It could be a few months before we hear anything but they have been keeping us regularly updated,” said Eamonn.
On Tuesday Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams visited the family of Jim McMenamin to express his condolences.

Speaking afterwards Mr Adams said, “There is serious disquiet in the local community, shared by the family, that the PSNI handling of Saturday night’s incident gives cause for real concern. Many serious questions need to be answered about the circumstances surrounding the killing of Jim McMenamin, the role of the PSNI and its behaviour immediately after the incident.

“The family want no cover-up. They want the truth. I am appealing to anyone who saw anything or who has any information to bring that forward and speak to the Office of the Police Ombudsman which is carrying out an investigation into this incident. It is important that this is done in conjunction with a solicitor.”

Journalist:: Damien McCarney

This was my loving uncle Jim who I had not saw since i was 2 he died when i was 6 I am now 12 and think it is a disgrace he died this way he did not deserve it!
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