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Family fights decision not to charge soldier who shot boy (15) dead

By Donna Deeney

The family of a schoolboy shot dead more than 40 years ago has started legal proceedings over the decision not to prosecute the soldier who killed him.

Daniel Hegarty was 15 when he was hit twice in the head by a man known only as Soldier B in the Creggan area of Londonderry in 1972.

A second inquest into the circumstances that led to Daniel's death, held in 2011, found that he was totally innocent and "posed no risk" to anyone.

Coroner John Leckey referred the case back to the Public Prosecution Service, who decided not to prosecute the soldier who fired the fatal bullets as there was "no reasonable prospect of a conviction".

Mr Hegarty's sister Margaret Brady vowed to challenge the decision, which she and the wider Hegarty family have now begun.

Mrs Brady said: "Barra McGrory (the director of the Public Prosecution Service) doesn't know what the outcome of a court case would be.

"He told me himself there is an argument for the prosecution and an argument against a prosecution, so let it go to court and let's battle it out."

Decisions not to prosecute were previously taken in 1973 and again in 2008 following a review of the case by the Historical Enquiries Team. Explaining the decision, Michael Agnew from the PPS said: "We have given careful consideration to all of the available evidence and information, including the findings of the jury at the inquest.

"We have received further expert evidence, both from the expert who had been instructed by the coroner and also a second independent expert.

"The conclusions of both experts are such that they are not able to state that the ballistics evidence is inconsistent with the account provided by Soldier B of the circumstances in which he fired. We have applied the test for prosecution afresh in light of the evidence currently available.

"Our assessment remains that there is no reasonable prospect of proving to the criminal standard that Soldier B did not act in self-defence, having formed a mistaken but honest belief that he was under imminent attack. In these circumstances there is no reasonable prospect of a conviction and test for prosecution is not met."

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