herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Officers probe garda killer link to assault in pub

Killer Michael McHugh on his arrest in 1985. Photo: Tom Conachy
Killer Michael McHugh on his arrest in 1985. Photo: Tom Conachy

A garda killer who was freed just over a month ago after serving 30 years in high security Portlaoise Prison is being investigated for his alleged role in a pub brawl.

Gardai in Ardee, Co Louth, are investigating reports that Michael McHugh (53) assaulted a man during a party in the pub.

McHugh, from Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, shot Sergeant Patrick Morrissey in the head after an armed robbery in 1985 and he walked free from Portlaoise  Prison on November 30 last.

Revenue

Sources have revealed when officers received information about an alleged assault, gardai began an investigation which ultimately led to revenue officials closing down the rural Louth pub this week.

The pub was not closed down because of the assault but because of alleged revenue breaches.

McHugh has not been questioned about the alleged assault and investigations into the case are ongoing according to sources.

McHugh’s accomplice, Noel Callan (52), from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, was released from Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon a day before McHugh.

The duo were convicted by the non-jury Special Criminal Court in December 1985 of the murder of Sgt Morrissey (49) at Rathbrist, Tallanstown, on June 27, 1985, following an armed robbery at Ardee Labour Exchange in Co Louth.

As he was being led out of court, McHugh shouted at the judges: “Victory to the INLA. You are pro-British.”

Father-of-four Sgt Morrissey was initially wounded by McHugh, before McHugh shot the unarmed garda in the head. McHugh was initially sentenced to death for the murder.

The sentence was commuted to 40 years’ penal servitude by then President Patrick Hillery, seven days before the execution was due to take place.

The men were freed because of the standard 25pc remission generally granted to prisoners.

Sergeant Morrissey was off duty when he was made aware a robbery was taking place.

He chased the robbers on foot after their motorbike crashed. Callan, who was injured, ran away. McHugh shot Sergeant Morrissey in the leg and then stood over him before shooting him in the head.

Last month, it emerged that McHugh was branded a reckless but highly intelligent criminal in Government documents.

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