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Army may have shot Belfast boy Patrick Crawford while he walked through hospital grounds, court told

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 21/01/2016

A teenager shot in the grounds of a Belfast hospital over 40 years ago may have been killed by a soldier, a Coroner's Court has heard
A teenager shot in the grounds of a Belfast hospital over 40 years ago may have been killed by a soldier, a Coroner's Court has heard

A teenager shot in the grounds of a Belfast hospital over 40 years ago may have been killed by a soldier, a Coroner's Court has heard.

Patrick Crawford (15) was hit while walking through the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital in August 1975.

At a preliminary hearing Belfast's Laganside court heard that ballistics evidence suggested the teenager was shot by a high velocity rifle, contradicting a confession from a man who claimed to have used a handgun.

It was also revealed that a pathologist commissioned by the now defunct Historical Enquiries Team found the trajectory of the bullet indicated it had come from an elevated position.

Mark McGarrity, barrister for the next of kin, said: "The concern is that the person who fired that bullet may have been a member of the Army."

The case is being heard as part of a review of Troubles-related deaths by High Court Judge Mr Justice Weir.

NI Attorney General John Larkin granted a fresh inquest into Patrick's death after representations from his family. An inquest in December 1979 recorded an open verdict, the court was told.

Judge Weir said: "The first coroner seems to have put forward to the jury the statement of admission by the person who said they had used a handgun. It could not have been very helpful."

It also emerged that the man who made the confession was not prosecuted in relation to Patrick's death, but later jailed for 10 years in connection with other offences including weapons and explosives charges.

Judge Weir said it was important to make progress in the historic case and to ensure that any vital evidence such as bullet fragments recovered from the scene was "carefully preserved".

He said: "Everyone can expect this will probably come in to be reviewed in a matter of months."

Peter Coll, barrister for the PSNI, said he understood the desire to move the case forward but could not give a definitive timeline for disclosure of documents.

Outside the court, Patrick's sister Maggie Crawford said: "His death had a major impact on our family - especially after our mother was killed in similar circumstances three years before.

"It devastated our family."

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