Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Bullet found in exhumed body of man 'shot twice by British soldiers'

Published 27/10/2015

Joseph Murphy was shot dead by British soldiers in west Belfast in 1971
Joseph Murphy was shot dead by British soldiers in west Belfast in 1971
Ballymurphy: troops stand by at the junction of Springfield and Whiterock Roads (20/09/1970)
Janet Donnelly said a bullet had been found in her father's remains

A bullet has been found in the exhumed body of a Belfast man who claimed British soldiers shot him a second time in an open wound, his daughter has said.

The exhumation of Joseph Murphy, a father of 12, was ordered by a coroner amid conflicting medical evidence from the time of his death, more than 40 years ago, on whether one or two bullets entered his body.

Mr Murphy was fatally injured in 1971 during a shooting incident referred to by bereaved relatives as the "Ballymurphy massacre'' and died 13 days later in hospital.

Nine others were also killed by shots fired by British soldiers.

The victims, which included a Catholic priest and mother of eight, died in an Army operation that saw soldiers from the Parachute Regiment storm republican strongholds in west Belfast to arrest IRA suspects following the introduction of the controversial state policy of internment without trial.

A new inquest is proceeding into the deaths in Belfast Coroner's Court.

Mr Murphy's family requested the exhumation to try to get to the truth of claims he was fired on a second time when in Army custody.

During his time in hospital Mr Murphy alleged he first was shot in the upper thigh on the streets of Ballymurphy, but he claimed soldiers then brought him into a nearby barracks and shot him again through his open wound.

While Mr Murphy thought a plastic bullet had been fired into the wound, his family suspected a live round may have been used.

There was an entry and exit wound on Mr Murphy's leg, suggesting one bullet passed through him.

Janet Donnelly said a bullet had been found in her father's remains
Janet Donnelly said a bullet had been found in her father's remains

However, a surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital who treated him said he had found a bullet lodged in his body - suggesting two rounds had entered.

But a pathologist who conducted the subsequent post mortem found no evidence of a bullet.

The exhumation took place in Belfast early on Tuesday.

Mr Murphy's daughter Janet Donnelly said a bullet had been found.

"We weren't an hour out of the graveyard and I got a text message, it just said 'a bullet's been found'," she told UTV.

"I'm still in shock. To me it's - 'you told us daddy, you told us it was there, you told us it happened and now it's been found'."

The shootings unfolded over three days in August 1971.

Another man died of a heart attack following an alleged violent confrontation with soldiers.

A new inquest into the 10 deaths caused by gunfire was ordered by Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin QC in 2011.

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph