Picture of Sammy Devenny
Sammy Devenny

1.The Complaint

1.1 The family of Mr. Samuel Devenny deceased met the Police Ombudsman on 20 April 2001. Mr. Devenny died on 17 July, 1969 some three months after he and members of his family and friends were allegedly attacked in his home by members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the RUC). Mr. Vincent Hanna, Solicitor, made a complaint against the RUC, on behalf of the family and an Investigating Officer was appointed by the RUC. His Report was submitted on 3 November 1969. Mr. Devenny's family state that they did not receive any information in relation to the findings of the Investigating Officer in this complaint. Following many public representations by and on behalf of the family after Mr. Devenny's death, Detective Chief Superintendent Kenneth Drury of the Metropolitan Police Service was appointed at the request of Sir Arthur Young, then Chief Constable of the RUC to investigate the complains made by the Devenny family. Detective Sergeant Churchill-Coleman was appointed to assist Detective Superintendent Drury. Mr. Drury and Mr. Churchill-Coleman travelled to Northern Ireland to re-open the enquiry and fully investigate the matter on 6 April 1970.

1.2 Following the completion of his investigation Mr. Drury brought twelve copies of his Report to Sir Arthur Young, CM.G C.V.O. K.P.M, Chief Constable of the RUC on 21 October 1970. Copies were also delivered on that day to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Major James Chichester Clark and to the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, Basil Kelly, Q.C M.P. The Report does not disclose any communication to the Devenny family although it does contain copies of Sir Arthur Young's Statement of 4 November 1970 and the Press Release issued by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons at Stormont on 5 November 1970

1.3 Mr. Drury was unable to establish who had carried out the attacks in the Devenny home on 19 April 1969. The Prime Minister in his Press Release, noted that "some members of the RUC are aware of who the culprits are but, perhaps through "a misguided sense of loyalty" as the Chief Constable puts it, are unwilling to co-operate with the authorities to establish the truth." The Chief Constable, in his Statement spoke of "a conspiracy of silence motivated by a misconceived and improper sense of loyalty to their guilty comrades." Not one officer was made amenable in respect of any aspect of misconduct as a consequence of the Devenny case.

1.4 The Drury Report was never published and indeed one would not have expected it to be published in full. However, the only communication of which the Devenny family are aware was the press release issued on 5 November 1970 by Major James Christopher Clarke, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, and the statement made by Sir Arthur Young on 4 November 1970. The family had no access to these documents, other than through the Press. Their complaint is that they have never been told the results of the Drury enquiry, and that they have never received any official acknowledgement to them that the police were in their home on 19 April 1969 or any detail of what was found to have happened on 19 April 1969, whether the events in their home on that date contributed to the death of their father, Mr. Sammy Devenny.

1.5 It is noted that Mrs Phyllis Devenny, widow of Mr. Samuel Devenny was reported in the media on 5 and 6 November 1970 as saying that she was satisfied "that it was established beyond all shadow of doubt that members of the RUC were involved."

1.6 The Police Ombudsman requested a copy of the Drury Report from the RUC on 12 June 2001 and on 22 June was advised that the RUC do not hold a copy of the Drury Report. Following further enquiries a complete copy of the Drury Report was made available to the Police Ombudsman by the Metropolitan Police Service on July 13 2001. Contained in the Drury Report is the Report of District Inspector Faulkner.

1.7 The RUC were unable to provide any information in relation to the Drury Report or the Faulkner Report. There is no available evidence that the RUC ever communicated with Mr. Devenny, or after his death with his wife Mrs Phyllis Devenny, or with any of his children in relation to the findings of either investigation into the complaints affecting them. The RUC have confirmed that they have no record of the complaints made by the Devenny family. The RUC's Complaints and Discipline Department was established in 1975.

1.8 Although there is evidence of communication between various authorities in the papers attacked to the Drury file, at the time of the production of the Drury Report there is no record of any communication with the Devenny family.

1.9 The Police Ombudsman is therefore of the view that the complaints made by the Devenny family that they had received no information is well founded. There is no evidence of any communication by the Chief Constable at the time, Sir Arthur Young, or any other officer, to the family.

1.10 The Police Ombudsman has therefore reviewed the Drury Report to identify what was established by Mr. Drury as having happened in the Devenny home, on 19 April 1969 and thereafter.


2.1 The Devenny family are described by Mr. Drury in the following terms "The Devenny family ... were at the time of the incident and, for that matter, still are. God- fearing law-abiding citizens, all of which were born and bred in the Bogside area of Londonderry."

2.2 The Parents:
Mr. Samuel Devenny (Sammy) Devenny, date of birth: 15.05.1926 aged 42 years.
Mrs Philomena Mary (Phyllis) Devenny, date of birth: 06.02.1929 aged 40 years
The Children:
Harry Devenny, date of birth: 15.08.1948 aged 21 years
Ann Devenny date of birth: 05.09.1950 aged 18 years
Catherine Devenny, date of birth: 04.04. 1953 aged 16 years
Philomena Devenny, date of birth 30.10.1954 aged 14 years
Daniel Devenny, date of birth: 07.12.1956 aged 12 years
Collette Devenny, date of birth: 08.06.1958 aged 10 years
Christine Devenny, date of birth 21.12.1959 aged 9 years
James (Jim) Devenny, date of birth: 14.03.1963 aged 6 years
Caroline Devenny date of birth: 06.01.1966 aged 3 years.
Mr. Harry Curran also lived in 69 William Street with the Devenny family. He was then aged 60 years.

The context which is described in this section of this Report has been derived from Mr. Drury's Report and in particular with Mr. Drury's findings in relation to his investigation of what occurred at the Devenny home between 8.30p.m and 9.06p.m on 19 April 1969, and of Mr. Devenny's death on 17 July 1969.

2.3.1 On 18th April 1969 notice was given by the North Derry Civil Rights Movement of the intention of members to march from Burntollet Bridge to Altnagelvin on 19 April 1969 with an anticipated starting time of 3.00p.m and an anticipated finishing time of 5.30p.m the same day. The march was prohibited. The March organiser telephoned the RUC and stated that the march would not take place. This was subsequently confirmed in writing.

2.32. It was anticipated by the authorities that the march might take place despite the ban and police from various areas were warned to parade for duty the following day, should their presence be required. Some 293 officers of varying rank were warned for duty, but by the end of 19 April some 500 officers were on duty at various times in the city. These officers cam3 from all over Northern Ireland.

2.3.3 At 3.00p.m on 19 April there was only a "small knot of people" at Burntollet Bridge and "no trouble appeared imminent. At 3.30p.m the Police were advised that a large number of people were staging a sit-down protest at the Guildhall Square. There followed a series of incidents culminating in an attack on the Headquarters of the Londonderry City Police in Strand Road. Rioters (and others) were driven along Strand Road to the junction of William Street and Waterloo Street. A series of pitched battles then developed between police and rioters.

2.3.4 Mr. Drury records that "during the course of the various attacks on the police, a large number of officers were injured and had to leave the riot area. The situation became somewhat chaotic…police sections were split up and senior officers… found themselves in charge of men they did not know, or for that matter, had never seen before. Injured officers returned to duty and being unable to find their own colleagues were forced to join other police officers and operate with then."

2.3.5 He also states that "On numerous occasions officers who did not know each other were operating together... effective supervision of individual officers became to all intends and purposes null and void, except where a senior officer may have had some individual officers with him that he knew personally."
2.3.6 Mr. Drury concludes that "As far as placing individual officers at any particular place at a given time was concerned, this was virtually impossible to accomplish from police records and all these would prove was that an officer was in the city on that day."


3.1 The Drury Report establishes that entry into 69 William Street Derry, the Devenny family home, was effected by officers of the RUC on 19 April 1969 some time between 8.30p.m and 9.06p.m. Prior to this there had been a significant rioting in Derry on that date as described by Mr. Drury. The sequence of events, which occurred, is described by Mr. Drury as follows:

3.1.1. At 8.00p.m the whole family, apart from Philomena Devenny who was baby-sitting elsewhere were in the house, Mrs Devenny was upstairs in bed suffering from an illness. Mr. Devenny moved his car from outside his house to Windsor Terrace to prevent damage occurring as a consequence of the rioting. He returned home on foot arriving at. about 8.30.

3.1.2 Mr. Devenny and his son, Harry, stood at the door watching rioting at William Street near the Rossville Street junction.

3.1.3 Mr. Patrick Harkin (aged 45 years) arrived to go to the Electric Bar, William Street. Mr. Frederick Budd (aged 43 years) arrived to collect his mother from 59 William Street and his son who worked at Con Bradley's Bar, 44 William Street. Mr. Harkin joined Mr. Devenny at Mr. Devenny's door. Mr. Budd's mother was afraid and would not answer the door so he also joined Mr. Devenny and Mr. Harkin at Mr. Devenny's door.

3.1.4 The police were coming under significant attack and senior officers agreed on a pincer movement by a force of police down William Street to relieve the pressure on the police lines at William and Rossville Street. Six Land Rovers went via Francis St to William St.

3.1.5 Mr. Devenny saw the Land Rovers coming and he and those with him went into Mr Devenny's house. Mr. Curran and Mr. Hugh McDaid, boyfriend of Ann Devenny were also there.

3.1.6 Mr. Devenny tried to shut to door but a number of youths ran into the house. Some went straight through the yard. Others went upstairs. Mr. Drury traced eight of those who entered the house and one who tried to. The person found the door shut and was batonned by a policeman at the factory next door. He dropped the flashlight on his camera. It was later given back to him by Hugh McDaid.

3.1.7 Four of those who ran into the house went upstairs. The other four ran into the backyard, one got on to the roof of an outhouse and stayed there. A twelve-year-old boy hid in the yard. The police officers who entered the Devenny house seem to have no attempt to find the young man who had entered the house. They did not go upstairs and there is no evidence that they made any attempt to search the yard. Had they done so they would have apprehended six young men.

3.1.8 Several officers got out of one of the Land Rovers. They were reported to be wearing helmets and carrying batons, but no riot shields. A policeman kicked the door, they batonned it and eventually (5 minutes later) broke in Mr. Devenny had tried to jam the door with a shovel.

3.1.9 Mr. Devenny was very fearful for his children as the police tried to enter his house and he asked Hugh McDaid to "take the weans upstairs." Hugh McDaid took some of the children upstairs.

3.1.10 The police then broke into the house and started beating Mr. Devenny and Mr. Harkin about the head. Mr. Devenny was pushed into the front room. Mr. Harkin was kicked and beaten unconscious by the police and left lying in the hall.

3.1.11 Harry Devenny was pushed into the kitchen where a police officer raised his baton to hit him. An officer in a Sam Browne belt with a blackthorn stick stopped this officer from hitting him after establishing that Harry lived in the house.

3.1.12 Anne and Catherine Devenny, Frederick Budd and some of the younger children, Colette, Daniel and Jim were in the front room. Three police officers stood and kicked and batonned Mr. Devenny one police officer knelt on the sofa and batonned him. Mr. Devenny is reported to have cried out repeatedly to the police to leave his children alone.

3.1.13 A police officer went over to Mr. Budd and Ann Devenny. He struck Mr. Budd on the head, he fell back onto the three younger children, Colette, Daniel and Jim who were sitting together in one chair. Mr. Budd was bleeding profusely.

3.1.14 Catherine Devenny, who was recovering from abdominal surgery, was lying on the sofa. She received a baton blow to the thigh, and to the right side of her back. The police officers took hold of her feet and pulled her onto the floor. Ann Devenny told them that Catherine had just released from hospital. Catherine curled up and was kicked a few times and became unconscious.

3.1.15 Ann Devenny was pushed over and crept to her father and lay across to protect him. She was kicked in the side. She was thrown across the fireplace where Catherine was lying. Another officer was about to kick Catherine. Ann kicked him and one officer took hold of her leg and held it up and another officer struck her across the toes with his baton

3.1.16 Anne got back to her father, was taken by the hair and lifted by the police officers off her father and pushed against the fireplace. An officer took her father by the shirt and threw him across the room. An officer kicked her father on the thigh.

3.1.17 As the officers left the room Harry Devenny came to it and was struck by a baton on his left side. The officer with the blackthorn stick then entered the room and all the police officers left the house. As they did so they dragged Mr. Harkin out of the hall by his neck and kicked and batonned him again and threw him into a Land Rover.

3.1.18 Mr. Harkin was taken to Victoria Police Station.

3.1.19 Mr. Devenny was bleeding profusely from a number of head wounds. His dentures and spectacles were broken. Mrs Devenny came downstairs and asked a neighbour, Mrs Doherty to call an ambulance.

3.1.20 Mr Budd was bleeding from head wounds. His blood was on some of the children, particularly Jim, who was thought to have been injured.

3.1.21 Mr. Drury established the time of the incidents by reference to two events: Mrs Devenny was in her bedroom listening on her radio to Saturday Night Theatre which started at 8.30. At 9.06p.m Mrs Mairead Doherty phoned for an ambulance. The incidents, therefore, probably occurred between 8.40 and 8.55.

3.1.22 Mr. Devenny was taken to hospital and examined by Dr. Ian R. Gordon, who recorded five lacerations and contusions to the head, the nose and the back of fingers of both hands (which were described as defence injuries) There was no cerebral damage. X ray showed no bony injury. Mr. Devenny was dazed and bleeding, shocked but coherent. There was considerable but not massive blood loss. He was kept in for observation. He was fully alert the next ay.

3.1.23 Catherine Devenny was also taken to hospital suffering from a 9" x 3" contusion on her back.

3.1.24 Mr. Budd was also taken to hospital. He had two lacerations to his scalp and a contusion to his left forearm. X ray showed no bony injury. He was not kept in. He was discharged by the hospital on 26 April 1969.

3.1.25 Harry Devenny, Ann Devenny, Hugh McDaid and the younger members of the Devenny family stayed at the family home, while Catherine Devenny, Mr. Devenny, his wife and Mr. Budd went to Altnagelvin Hospital.

3.1.26 They attempted to tidy up the house. Harry Devenny found 2 rounds of .38 revolver ammunition. These were subsequently given to the police, but there was no proper forensic examinations of the bullets.

3.1.27 Dr. Raymond McClean, Mr. Ivan Cooper arrived about 10.00, having heard that there had been trouble. They saw the blood, and Dr. McLean was asked to look after Jim then aged 7, who had blood on him. He was however uninjured - the blood came from Mr. Budd.

3.1.28 Ann Devenny was overwrought, with bruising to the first toe of her right foot, which was swollen and tender.

3.1.29 On 20 April 1969 Catherine Devenny and Harry Devenny went to Dr. Kinsella (the family doctor) for treatment, Dr. Kinsella identified the following injuries to Catherine Devenny:

· 3" bruise on shoulder
· 2 x 4" bruises to 7th rib
· 2 x 4" bruises separated by one inch to right glutial region
· 3" bruise on right thigh
· 3 small oval bruises on right leg
· She had a small oval bruise on left heel which was very painful.
· She was in extreme pain
· She was emotionally upset
· She was very stiff
Dr. Kinsella noted that "the mental aspect of the injuries she received will remain with her… probably for the rest of her life." Dr. Kinsella noted the following injuries to Harry Devenny:
· Painful bruise on umbilicus
· Small bruising on left groin
3.1.30 On 22 April 1969 Mr. Sammy Devenny was discharged from Altnagelvin Hospital.
3.1.31 On 22 April 1969 complaints against the police were made to Victoria Police Station.

4.1 On 23 April 1969 Dr. Clarke, Family Doctor was called at 10.30a.m to examine Mr.Sammy Devenny. He observed the following:
· 3 sutured wounds to the head
· bruising to both forearms and right wrist
· he had pain in his wrist
· he was sallow and toxic
· he had pains in his chest.
Dr Clarke diagnosed Coronary Thrombosis.

4.2 Mr. Devenny was taken to St. Columbs Hospital and thence to Altnagelvin Hospital. He was seen by Dr. Vine. An ECG showed acute posterior infarct of heart and healed arteroseptal infarct. The blocking of his left artery was much older than the blockages of the right artery. This heart attack was caused by thrombosis in right artery. The previous heart attack in left artery was assumed to be a "silent attack" although there would have been some pain.

(When conducting the post mortem examination Dr. Marshall noted that on 09.06.1967 Mr. Devenny complained to his doctor of aches in the left shoulder and lower left side in back of his chest, nothing was found on this occasion).

4.4. Mr. Devenny was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast on 24 April 1969 where he was seen by Doctor Pantridge.

4.5 On 26 April Mr. Devenny developed a "changing heart block" and was sent to the Intensive Care Unit.

4.6 On 9 May Mr Devenny returned to Altnagelvin Hospital and on 19 May he was discharged with instructions to take life easy.

4.7 He was seen twice by Dr. Clarke who thought he had only a few months to live.

On 16 July Mr Devenny had breakfast, walked into town, bought some things for his brother, had lunch, collected his brother's wife and took her to Altnagelvin Hospital to see his brother, who was then in hospital. He picked up his wife at home, went to her mother's address, drove with his wife and in-laws to Buncrana, where he played a game of putting with his father-in-law. He then went for a walk with his wife and in-laws around Buncrana looking for holiday accommodation. They then returned to Derry. The family had a fry for their supper, and Mr Devenny then drove his in-laws home. He returned home about 10.00p.m. He watched television until midnight. He went up to bed at 12.15a.m. According to Mrs Devenny he was "in the best of form." At 12.30 a.m Mrs Devenny went up to bed. She was about to get into bed when Mr. Devenny said "Oh dear." He was panting and wheezing. She called a priest and a doctor. She went and called in Mrs Myra Doherty, a neighbour. Father Mulvey and McCullough arrived. Mrs Devenny then left the room. Dr. Clarke went up and arrived as Mr. Devenny died at approximately 12.45.

5.2 Mr Devenny's body taken to Altnagelvin Hospital where it was identified by Harry Devenny. The Post Mortem examination was carried out by Dr. T.K. Marshall M.D M.C Path., State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, that day.

5.3 The cause of death was established as coronary arethoma and old thrombosis.

6.1 Mr Drury attempted to establish whether Mr Devenny's death was attributable to the injuries which he had suffered on 19 April 1969. He sought medical opinions from all the doctors who had treated Mr Devenny after the incident, from Dr. Marshall and from an independent consultant employed by the Devenny family. In the event he was unable to reach any conclusion that Mr Devenny's death was caused by the events of 19 April 1969.

7.1 Dr Marshall M.D M.C, Path., State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, stated that he believed the death was due to coronary arethoma and old thrombosis. He did not state that the death was consequential upon the injuries which Mr Devenny suffered on 19 April 1969.

7.2 Dr. Pantridge M.C M.D (Belfast), M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O, F.R.C.P Consultant Physician (Heart Specialist) Royal Victoria Hospital stated that he believed death was from natural causes and that the assault was not a contributory factor.

7.3 Dr. D.G. Julian, M.A B.A., M.D., M.B., B.Ch., M.R.C.P., M.A.R.C.P., M.R.C.P (Ed) Consultant Physician at the Department of Cardiology, Royal Infirmary Edinburgh agreed with Dr. Marshall "whilst it is impossible to prove the injuries on 19th did not precipitate the heart attach on 23rd there is evidence to show Mr. Devenny had advanced artery disease." He said that it would be impossible and difficult to relate the injury to his final demise.

7.4 Dr. Vine M.D., M.R.C.P, Consultant Physician, Altnagelvin Hospital agreed with the others and suggested that if the heart attack were the result of the attack on Mr. Devenny by the police it would, in all probability, have occurred immediately.

7.5 Dr. R.R.J.R Clarke M.B., B.Ch., B.O.A., L.M., D.P.H., partner in the practice of Dr. Kinsella, says the assault on Mr. Devenny, the assault on his children and acute nervous tension resulting therefrom contributed to the heart attack.

7.6 Dr. S. Sevitt, M.D., M.Sc., F.C. Path., F.R.C.P.T., D.P.H., Consultant Pathologist at the Birmingham Hospital, instructed by Mr. Francis Hanna, Solicitor for the Devenny family said it is impossible for coronary thrombosis to be precipitated by SERIOUS injury, but it is unusual and there are few reported cases in medical history. Dr. Sevitt told Mr. Drury that Mr. Devenny's injuries were not so serious in his view that they would have upset the clotting mechanism, and thereby precipitated a heart attack.

7.7 Dr. J.A. Weaver, M.D., M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O., M.R.C.P., Consultant Physician at RVH instructed by Francis Hanna, Solicitor for the Devenny family said the assault by police was a cause of the coronary on 23 April.

8.1 On 23 July 1969 the Inquest into the death of Mr Devenny opened. It was conducted by H.M. Coroner M.F. Leslie. It was adjourned and on 15 December 1969 Mr Drury states that "the jury, having heard all the evidence, and "in accordance with the medical evidence placed before them," returned a verdict of "Death from Natural Causes."

9.1 Mr. Drury records that although originally 283 officers of varying rank, apart from those attached to the Londonderry City Force were warned for duty, a total of nearer five hundred officers were on duty in Derry that day. Officers of the Reserve Force, from Belfast and from H.M.S Sea Eagle, Derry) and also officers from the Londonderry City Fore and various other stations in County Londonderry were on duty in the William Street area on 19 April 1969.

9.2 Mr. Drury records that eight officers at the very maximum were responsible for the assault which were the subject of his Report.

9.3 One hundred and twenty three officers of varying rank were interviewed by Mr. Drury. Thirty eight were members of the Land Rover force. Twelve were known to have been from the Rossville Street police lines and to have run up William Street at the time the Land Rovers arrived.

9.4 Mr. Drury was therefore, able to identify a significant number of officers as being in the area at the time.

9.5 In his Report Mr. Drury draws the following conclusions:

9.5.1 "Some of the officers who entered 69 William Street at the time and on the date specified were responsible for the assaults on Sammy Devenny and other aggrieved persons."

9.5.2 "These officers can not be identified."

9.5.3 "Whilst it is appreciated that officers of the Force on duty in the riot area on the day in question were under extreme provocation, being constantly attacked and sorely tried, there is no evidence that their action against the members of the Devenny family and others in the house could be justified in any way and this code of conduct can never be condoned in any force responsible for the preservation of law and order."

9.5.4 "Some of the officers responsible for the attack were Reserve Force - they had visors and only Reserves had visors at the time."

9.5.5 Mr Drury identifies certain officers and in particularly he said "Constable A is fully aware of what took place at the Devenny home."

9.5.6 He also states that "there is every indication that Constables B,C and D know what took place at the Devenny home."

9.5.7 Mr. Drury also says "There is little doubt that Constables A.B and other members of the force are in fear of retribution from colleagues if they tell the truth."

9.5.8 "There was a lack of supervision by Sergeants and Head Constables. There was an extremely difficult situation prevailing."

9.5.9 Officers of the Belfast City and Londonderry City Forces did wear numerals, all other officers, did not have identifying numerals. (These were introduced on foot of Mr Drury's final recommendation)

9.5.10 There was an amnesty in respect of criminal offences committed at this time. It was announced by Prime Minister for Northern Ireland on 6 May 1969 in respect of incidents occurring between 5 October 1968 and 6 May 1969. There could therefore be no prosecution of any police officer in respect of the incidents which occurred at the Devenny home on 19 April 1969.

9.5.11 Supt Drury was of the view that because the amnesty precluded prosecution it would "have been against all the basic rules of justice to proceed under the discipline code" on the same evidence. There could be therefore no disciplinary action against any officer in respect of the incidents referred to in the preceding paragraph.

9.5.12 He stated "however this would not preclude any disciplinary action being taken against the officers for offences such as failing to report a matter it was his duty to report, making a false statement and the like."

10.1 Mr. Drury states that "when one analyses the situation, the Investigation Officer could never, at any stage have hoped to dully investigate the matters complained of by virtue of the fact that they were officers of the RUC" because of the situation prevailing at that time. He was, however, critical of the investigation carried out by the Investigating Officer and made the following observations in respect of the previous investigation:

10.1.1 Little or no forensic work was done by the Investigating Officer.
10.1.2 There was no forensic examination of the land rovers.
10.1.3 No uniforms were forensically examined.
10.1.4 No fingerprinting was carried out at the Devenny house.
10.1.5 There was no examination of the .38 bullets which were found at the Devenny house after the incident, for fibres, etc. It is not possible to say conclusively that the bullets were left in the house by the RUC.
10.1.6 There was no attempt to find out whether any officers had ammunition missing from their official quota.
10.1.7 There was no forensic analysis of any clothing at the Devenny house.
10.1.8 No samples were taken from Mr. Devenny at the time.
10.1.9 Police officers got copies of their statements at the time of the Faulkner enquiry, before their interview by Drury.
10.1.10 No identity parades were carried out. However Mr. Drury notes that he offered Harry Devenny and his sisters the opportunity of an identity parade including the two Head Constables whom he had identified, and a Reserve Force Officer, J, who had been identified as a possible suspect because he had had a plaster on his nose on the relevant day (Harry Devenny had stated that one of the officers in the house had a plaster on his nose) but they declined. They had previously spent considerable time attempting to identify the officers from photographs and a year after the event they did not think they could identify the officers at that stage, nor did Mrs Devenny. An officer identified by Ann Devenny was excluded from the investigation as he had been admitted to hospital prior to the incident at the Devenny home.

10.2 All the matters referred to above were irretrievable at the time of the Drury investigation.

10.3 However Mr. Drury carried out a most thorough investigation and gathered together all available evidence witness evidence, medical evidence, created maps of the area, studied television footage and did all possible to identify those responsible for the injuries suffered by those in the Devenny household at the time.

11.1 "It will be seen as this Report unfolds there is no doubt whatsoever, and this can be factually supported that the damage to the Devenny home and the assaults in the manner described by the various complaints were perpetrated by officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

11.2 As to whether the assault on Samuel Devenny by police in any way contributed to his subsequent demise is purely speculative. Suffice it to say at this stage that medical opinion is somewhat divided at this point."

12.1 It is acknowledged that the situation in Derry in April 1969 was unique and extraordinary. It is further acknowledged that on 19 April 1969 in the William Street and Rossville Street areas close to Sammy and Phyllis Devenny's home, there had been significant rioting and there was a high level of police officers and police reserves trying to maintain public order. From police records it can be seen that normal supervision and control of the police had broken down. Within this context the Devenny family found themselves caught up in a set of events within their home which resulted in injuries and which they believe contributed directly to an exacerbation in their father's heart condition on 23 April and subsequently to his death on 17 July.

12.2 The complaints made against the RUC by the Devenny family on 22 April 1969 were investigated internally by the RUC and further, after public representations, were investigated externally by Detective Superintendent Kenneth Drury of the Metropolitan Police Service. The Report submitted by Mr. Drury to the Chief Constable of the RUC, Sir Arthur Young copied to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and the Attorney General revealed the depth of concern as to the nature of the conduct of police officers in the Devenny home on 19 April and resulted in press statements both by the Prime Minister and the Chief Constable. The chief Constable in his statement spoke of a "conspiracy of silence motivated by a misconceived and improper sense of loyalty to their guilty comrades."

12.3 The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland following a detailed examination of the Drury Report forms the view that the complaint made by the Devenny family that they had received no information regarding the investigation of their complaints in 1969 is well founded. There is no evidence of any communication by the chief Constable at the time, Sir Arthur Young, or any other officer with the family. Nor was there evidence of any communication with the family following the production of the Drury Report.

12.4 The Police Ombudsman concludes that the substance of the information and findings in the Drury Report should have been shared with the Devenny family. Sharing of the information would not have lessened or erased the impact of the events, but it may have helped the family to come to terms with the trauma they had suffered and to have moved forward.

12.5 The Police Ombudsman also concludes from the examination of the Drury Report that the investigation he carried out, in contrast to the internal investigation by the RUC was extensive and thorough. Though Mr. Drury was unable in the end to positively identify officers involved within the Devenny home on 19 April, proper communication of his findings to the family at the time may have helped affirm their views of what had taken place and may have restored some of the sense of injustice they felt in their situation.

12.6 The Police Ombudsman has concluded from the examination of the Drury Report that the statement of the Prime Minister for Northern Ireland in Stormont Parliament (5th November 1970) and the release of the Chief Constable for Northern Ireland, Sir Arthur Young, (4th November 1970) were prompted as an official acknowledgement that members of the RUC were in the Devenny home on 19 April 1969 and as a consequence members of the Devenny family suffered injuries as described in this report. The use of such terms as "culprits" could not have been used by the Chief Constable Sir Arthur Young, other than in the context of an official acknowledgement that the conduct of the unidentified RUC officers in the home on that date was utterly unacceptable.

12.7 It has been stated that the RUC have no records in relation to the Devenny case. Because of the Amnesty of 6th May 1969 the Police Ombudsman concurs with Mr Drury's statement that no police officer could have been prosecuted in respect of the incidents which occurred in the Devenny home on 19 April 1969. Disciplinary action was precluded, according to Mr. Drury because it would have been against the basic rules of justice to bring disciplinary action in respect of evidence which could not have been used in the criminal courts because of the Amnesty. It is regrettable here appears to have been no further analysis of the conduct of "officers alleged to have failed to report incidents, or made false statements and the like."

12.8 The Police Ombudsman is of the view that some thirty years on it would not be possible to bring disciplinary action, either I respect of action on 19 April or thereafter. Officers have left the force and would thus no longer be amenable to disciplinary process.

12.9 With regard to what Kenneth Drury reported in relation to what happened in home of Samuel Devenny on 19 April 1969, the Police Ombudsman notes the gravity of the comment made by Kenneth Drury in his conclusion that;

"Whilst it is appreciated that officers of the force on duty in the riot area on the day in question were under extreme provocation, being constantly attacked and sorely tried, there is no evidence that their action against the members of the Devenny family and others in the house could be justified in any way and this code of conduct can never be condoned in any force responsible for the preservation of law and order"

12.10 The Government and the Chief Constable of the RUC appeared to accept publicly the findings and conclusions of Kenneth Drury and the Police Ombudsman forms the view that it is most regrettable that this was not communicated directly to the Devenny family over thirty years ago.

12.11 With regard to the view of the Devenny family that the incidents in their home on 19 April contributed to the death of their father, Sammy Devenny, the Police Ombudsman observes that the medical evidence is inconclusive. The Drury report has set out a summary of the opinions of seven doctors directly connected to the examination of Mr. Devenny. The opinions range from two doctors, Dr. Clarke and Dr. Weaver who formed the view that there was a direct contributory connection between the events of 19 April and Mr Devenny's subsequent illness and death through to Dr. Pantridge who had the opinion that there would be no connection. Other doctors could not give evidence or an opinion that would positively connect or disassociate the events.

12.12 The Police Ombudsman has not called on any additional medical evidence or opinion, but notes that Kenneth Drury in his report fairly and adequately takes into consideration the various opinions and medial evidence available and concluded only that the cause of death noted by the Coroner was due to natural causes. There is no basis on which the Police Ombudsman can reopen an examination or investigation of this particular medical issue but she acknowledges, in light of the other material presented in this report, that the Devenny family will, understandably continue to hold the view that there was an indisputable link between the circumstances and events in their home on 19 April 1969 the subsequent deterioration of their father's health four days later when he returned to hospital and to his death on 17 July 1969.

This matter was investigated y The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland under powers conferred on her by the Police (NI) Act 1998.

Nuala O'Loan
Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
27 September 2001

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