John Gibson, was shot dead in the driveway of his Carnvue Road home by the IRA on Thursday 21st October 1993. Only hours earlier he had learned of an award for his voluntary work for the British Diabetic Association.
His son, Peter, is still fighting for justice for his father. He started by outlining for Unionist Voice why he believes his father, an innocent victim, was disgracefully targeted by IRA terrorists;
“He was a Company Director of Henry Brothers, who carried out construction work on Security Force bases. Henry Brothers was the most targeted firm during the IRA’s targeting of Civilian contractors. That was my father’s so called ‘crime’”.
Aside from his civilian contractor work John Gibson was a tireless charity worker for those with Diabetes. It is clear Peter is proud of his father and the positive role he played in his local community and in helping those suffering from diabetes. He explained “my father was ‘Mr Diabetes’ in Northern Ireland. He was one of those who helped set up and ran diabetic holidays, family weekends and many of the original ‘Branches’ in Northern Ireland, long before the Charity set up their office in Northern Ireland. He would spend his weekends in Hospital, talking to families of newly diagnosed children, again, long before Diabetes specialist nurses came in to being”. Only hours before his murder John Gibson had learned he was to be honoured with an award for his voluntary work for those with diabetes.
In July 1996 IRA terrorist Robert Duffy was convicted of Mr Gibson’s murder. He was one of the first terrorists to be convicted based on DNA evidence.
Peter remembers the trial and the lack of remorse shown by the IRA gunman and his family “I was attacked by Duffy’s father at the remand hearing, during another one of the remand hearings Robert Duffy punched one of the Prison Officers in the dock and during the trial I was warned by the judge to stop staring at Duffy, as it was causing him unease”.
He continued “at the end of his (Duffy’s) trial, I was told by the Detectives not to be exuberant when he was convicted. This was astonishing”.
That was not the end of Peter’s ordeal; IRA terrorist Duffy dragged the case through a lengthy appeal. Thankfully the conviction was upheld, however Peter feels that had the current PPS been in place at the time that it is likely Duffy would have walked free. This is thought to be a reference to the growing feeling of prosecutorial favouritism towards republicans.
“I had to sit through an appeal hearing, which luckily enough was upheld. In the most recent and current PPS regime, I believe he probably would have been exonerated”.
Shortly after he was sentenced John Gibson’s murderer was released from prison. This is something Peter continues to struggle with.
“Robert Duffy was released under the terms of the Belfast Agreement, along with many others, some of whom are meant to be responsible for legislating for Northern Ireland, even though their central aim is to destroy the existence of Northern Ireland and have it as part of their utopian ‘New Ireland’”.
After his release, Robert Duffy was allegedly responsible for the murder of Trevor Kell, a taxi driver, in North Belfast and is currently serving a prison sentence in Mountjoy prison for attempted murder.
Following the judgement, which is being appealed to the Supreme Court, that Michael Stone must serve his full term of imprisonment, Peter has questioned why the same rule should not be applied to Robert Duffy and other republicans. He is currently seeking legal advice on how to pursue this issue.
A further recent development has come to light in which Peter has received credible information that four or more IRA informers may have had knowledge of, or been involved in his father’s murder.
Peter revealed that he had held a meeting with the Operation Kenova team, investigating the IRA’s highest ranking agent Freddie Scappatticci, known as ‘Stakeknfie’ but is disappointed his father’s killing isn’t being properly followed up. He told Unionist Voice;
“I have had a meeting with the Kenova Team, but have since been told that my father’s case will not be followed up on, as it falls outside the ‘timeline’ of the investigation”.
Peter continued “this does not really surprise me, having been fobbed off by the Public Records Office Northern Ireland in a request for information regarding my father’s case/murder and also by the HET, and the Police Ombudsman”.
The lack of willingness from the Police Ombudsman, who is felt by many unionists to be acting as little more than a tool of republicanism’s legacy campaign, to follow up on Peter’s complaint raises serious questions around how cases involving complaints from nationalists appear to be prioritised.
Peter’s mother struggled badly after John’s murder with a range of health problems. Her son praised the assistance provided by Henry brothers during these difficult times for his family. Sadly Peter’s mother passed away after a battle with illness in November 2018.
Unionist Voice will continue to offer all support and assistance possible to Peter Gibson and his family. We would encourage any other ‘forgotten victims’ of IRA terrorism to contact Unionist Voice if you would like a platform to have your story told. If you would like to take part in our ‘Forgotten Victims’ series email firstname.lastname@example.org