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24 May 2022

Inquest date set into death of Derry man whose body was found on shores of Lough Neagh in 2008

Inquest date set into death of Derry man whose body was found on shores of Lough Neagh in 2008

Gerard Hampson's body was found on shores of Lough Neagh in January 2008

The inquest into the death of a Derry man who was found dead on the shores of Lough Neagh six weeks after he disappeared is scheduled to begin in Omagh at the end of this month..

Gérard Hampson, 53, of Northland Road in the city was last seen towards the end of 2007. His body was found on the shores of Lough Neagh near Toomebridge on January 9 the following year.

At a hearing in Derry Courthouse, a barrister representing the coroner, Bobbie-Leigh Herdman, said everything was ready to proceed, with the inquest starting, on January 31 in Omagh. She said that due to availability issues the hearing only had three days, - Monday, Wednesday and Friday of that week.

Counsel for the next-of-kin, Paul Foster, said he had some concerns about some of the decisions taken by the coroner which he felt were 'limiting' the scope of the inquest.

When asked what he was referring to, Mr Foster said the issue of failure by the PSNI to follow up some leads.

The coroner, Joe McCrisken, said it was not his role to critique the PSNI but asked Mr Foster to put his concerns in writing.

Mr McCrisken said a decision had to be taken as to when the deceased 'actually died.'

He said if it appeared Mr Hampson died soon after he was last seen ai the end of November, then all the reports of sightings in December and subsequent investigations were outside the scope of the Inquest.

But, he added the hearing would be 'flexible' as it proceeded and warned he would not tolerate any time wasting. The hearing was adjourned for the inquest to begin at 10.30am on January 31.

The PSNI was heavily criticised in a Police Ombudsman report for their handling of the investigation into Mr Hampson's disappearance.

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