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'Difficulty' in engaging soldier over inquest for Troubles victim Marian, 17

It has been extremely difficult to contact a crucial soldier witness to the killing of a pregnant teenager in Northern Ireland, a lawyer said.

Marian Brown, 17, was shot dead in disputed circumstances in Belfast in 1972.

A new inquest is due to be held.

Kevin Rooney QC told a preliminary hearing in a city centre coroner's court: "B has proved to be extremely difficult."

He said arrangements had been made for the new inquest based on the former serviceman's instructions two years ago.

Mr Rooney added: "But since that time he has not been engaging, we have been having difficulty with him.

"He is a crucial witness.

"We will make renewed efforts, we will make contact as best we can to see if we can engage him."

He has been living in a hostel.

Judge David McFarland warned Soldier B could be summoned to attend the inquest.

Miss Brown was shot in the neck just moments after kissing her boyfriend goodnight at Roden Street off the Grosvenor Road in June 1972.

She was struck by a stray bullet amid a reported exchange of gunfire between paramilitaries and the Army.

The source of the fatal round has long been disputed.

The killing was first blamed on republican and then loyalist gunmen.

But a review of the case by the police's now-defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET) suggested the shot may actually have been fired by a soldier.

Three soldiers at the scene of the disputed killing were in an eight-strong patrol that had been in the area at the time of the incident.

The other five servicemen gave statements to the original inquest.

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