In Memory of Martha Campbell

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Summary of Investigation by

Tony Campbell and HET

It has always been the family’s belief that the British army were responsible for the shot that killed Martha but this was never proven as no bullet was ever recovered and no responsibility claim was ever made. However, when the book Lost Lives was published my attention was drawn to the entry on Martha's death that she was shot by the UVF. This prompted me to conduct my own investigation to try and find out what actually happened on the night Martha was shot. I spoke to a co-author of the book Lost Lives and he explained that his information came from, as he put it, a reliable Loyalist source who is now deceased. When I questioned him further on this, he stated that his source when presented with a list of names of unsolved murders that had no blame attributed to them, the source selected Martha’s name along with others and said that the UVF was responsible. He did not take the list away for consultation but was able to do this on the spot. I found this strange given the time that passed since Marth's death and that no such claim had ever been made prior to this. I wonder if it is possible that the source got Martha's killing confused with that of Eileen Macken, Eileen was also from Ballymurphy and her murder had many similarities to Martha's:

 

1- Martha was 13 years old when shot, Eileen was 14 years old when shot.

2- Martha was with her friend when she was shot, Eileen was also with her frend.

3- Martha lived in Ballymurphy, Eileen lived in Ballymurphy.

4- Martha was shot in May 1972, Eileen was shot in May 1973.

5- Martha was in fact shot in Springhill Crescent, although the Lost Lives book states

Martha was Shot in Springhill Avenue. Eileen was shot in Springhill Avenue.

 

Note: Eileen's murder is described on the website Ballymurphy.org/volunteers: "Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)

Shot by sniper while walking along Springhill Avenue, Ballymurphy, Belfast."

 

I spent approx 2-years+ investigating Martha’s death and do not believe that it is the case that the UVF were responsible. I have spoken with leaders of the political wing of the UVF, Don Purvis and Billy Hutchinson who made some enquiries for me with no avail to confirm or deny that the UVF were involved. I am also convinced that where Martha was positioned when shot; she could not have been seen from the Loyalist Springmartin estate. In the book Lost Lives it states that Martha was shot in Springhill Avenue, when in fact she was shot in Springhill Crescent. It may be possible that the reliable Loyalist source got Martha’s death mixed up with others who were shot in Springhill Avenue as this area could be seen from Springmartin estate.

 

Over the past year or more the HET has been conducting their investigation and I have worked very closely with them providing the information I have gathered, unfortunately they were unable to progress the case any further as no additional information was available. This in my opinion was due to the lack of investigation by the RUC. At the time of Martha's killing the RUC did not interview eyewitnesses, did not go back to the scene, did not make an enquiry through the Military Police, etc.

 

HET COMMENT:

"It is difficult to imagine that a child could have been shot dead in a street and no investigation of the killing took place. There are no records that there was any significant inquiry into the circumstances; if there was, no details have survived."