Army shooting victim Manus Deery's brother told on deathbed of ex-officer's sorrow
The dying brother of a teenager shot dead by the Army in Londonderry heard that the soldiers' commanding officer was sorry for the incident, just hours before he passed away.
Major Trevor Wilson, who was the commander of C Company of the 1st Battalion of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters when Manus Deery was killed in 1972, appeared at his inquest last week.
The former officer became emotional when giving evidence and said he wished to say sorry to the Deerys.
He later had a private conversation with the family outside the courtroom. Relatives then whispered Major Wilson's words into the ear of Seamus Deery (63), who was on his deathbed.
"The killing of our brother, Manus, had such a huge effect on our whole family for 42 years. We wanted Seamus to hear the commander's apology before he died. It meant so much to us all," Helen Reynolds, Manus's sister, said.
Manus was shot dead as he ate chips with his friends in the Bogside in May 1972. The 15-year-old had left home with a comic magazine tucked into the back of his trousers. The soldier who fired the fatal shot was never prosecuted despite an official admission that the Army's own 'yellow card' guidelines - stating when the military can open fire - had been broken. He claimed that he had spotted a gunman.
Helen Deery said the inquest would not be postponed because of the death of Seamus, who will be buried today. "We were told that if we tried to get the inquest adjourned for even a few days, it could end up being put back years," she explained.
"Even though this is an extremely difficult and emotional time for our family - burying one brother and attending the inquest of another - we will see it through."
Police and civilian witnesses are due to give evidence at the inquest today in Derry courthouse.