THE family of a man brutally slain and dumped in a country lane 16 years ago today say they know who murdered him. The Police Ombudsman is assessing a complaint by the family who believe police are protecting his killer.
South Belfast man Thomas ‘Tucker’ Lockard was just 34 when his tied and bloody body was found wrapped in tarpaulin and dumped across the border in Raskeagh, Co Louth in April 1998 after a drug deal went bad. Speaking on the 16th anniversary of his death, Thomas’ family told Sunday Life they are convinced there was police collusion in his death, but doubt if they will ever get the answers they need to bring them peace.
A spokesman for Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire said they plan to begin an investigation into the handling of the case following an assessment of the complaint made by the Lockard family. GRUESOME “We’re not sure when that will start, but we will continue to liaise with the family,” he said.
The Lockards have also applied to the Attorney General for an inquest into the gruesome murder. Found stripped down to his boxers, Thomas had suffered more than 40 stab wounds — one that had severed an ear and another that had punctured his lung.
His killers tortured him for more than a day, beating him unconscious continually with fists and hammers and then reviving him by throwing water around him. In the end, Thomas died by choking on his own vomit. His body was stumbled upon by veteran republican Sean Hughes, who happened to live in the area.
Hours beforehand, a local farmer had seen a red Vauxhall Cavalier with an English number plate driving down a county lane at five miles an hour with no headlights on. Thomas’ family think this was the vehicle used to transport his body, and that he was left over the border to make it look like he was an informant killed by republicans. However it is believed Thomas met his gory end in the Co Antrim garage of notorious stripper known as ‘Madame Sin’ turned drug queen Nuela Fitchie — for whom he worked as a courier.
Thomas’ family said he had gone to England to get drugs for Nuela and had taken a bodyguard with him. But the bodyguard took the drugs and Thomas got the blame — leaving him Pounds 30,000 in debt to Nuela. He was last seen getting into her car at Corr’s Corner and being driven to her plush Ballyclare home. While police believed Nuela was one of the killers, they also had information that north Belfast drug dealer Frankie ‘Boogaloo’ Mulholland was involved.
OVERDOSED Nuela was interviewed 10 times by police over the murder in 1998 alone — but she and Mulholland are both now dead. Nuela overdosed on ecstasy in police custody while partying in Blackpool in 1999. Mulholland was murdered by the UDA when a drug deal turned sour in 2001.
In 2012 the PSNI’s Historical Enquiry Team reopened the Thomas Lockard murder case and north Belfast man Stephen ‘Dick’ Dempsey was charged with abducting and killing Lockard. But the charges against Dempsey, who always denied any wrongdoing, were later dropped. Thomas’s sister Alice will travel to Louth to mark her brother’s anniversary at the spot his body was found. “It’s heartbreaking because we feel this could have been solved by now,” she said.
“The dogs in the street know who was involved with Thomas’ murder but there are so many questions, dozens of them, the police have been unable to answer and so many holes in their investigation.” “I want to appeal to the people of Tigers Bay and the York Road to come forward,” she said. “Someone knows something but they’re scared.”
I am glad that the investigation has resumed and I hope that the perpetrators will be punished.