John Torney, 40, had denied shooting his wife Linda, 33, daughter Emma, 10, and 13-year-old son John with his police-issue revolver at their home in Cookstown, Co Tyrone. But the judge at Belfast Crown Court, Lord Justice Carswell, told him he was guilty of "one of the most callous and cold- blooded crimes it has been my misfortune to encounter".
He went on: "Whatever may have been the mainspring of your obsession which drove you to do such a terrible thing, when you planned and embarked upon it with fiendish ingenuity and ruthless precision, you planned throughout to blame your son and tried forever to blacken his name and reputation." He said he would recommend that Torney served at least 20 years in jail.
The court was told that Torney was infatuated with Ailsa Millar, a fellow RUC officer. He hoped to make more than pounds 80,000 from insurance policies on his family and from the sale of his house and planned to set up home with Ms Millar. As part of his plan he kept two notes of apology his son had written following an argument over the family dog. Then on 19 September 1994, he shot his wife and daughter once in the back of the head, and his son in the forehead, in an attempt to make it look like suicide. Torney then called for help claiming that the boy had run amok.