Belfast Telegraph

Family of Annette McGavigan (14) killed by Army in 1971 bid for fresh inquest

By Donna Deeney

The family of a schoolgirl shot dead by the Army in Londonderry has lodged an application for a new inquest more than 40 years after her death.

Fresh evidence has emerged linked to the death of Annette McGavigan (14) in September 1971.

It includes previously unseen film footage of the aftermath of the shooting at Abbey Street, and a recent pathologist's report that suggested she died from a direct shot to her head.

This contradicts evidence presented to the jury at the previous inquest, which concluded the bullet that killed the schoolgirl had "deflected or ricocheted".

Annette, who was a pupil at St Cecilia's, was wearing her school uniform when she was fatally injured.

She was the first child to die as a result of the Troubles and is featured on one of the Bogside Murals, entitled 'The Death of Innocence'.

A solicitor acting on behalf of the family lodged the application for a fresh inquest with the Attorney General John Larkin in court yesterday.

Annette's sister May Nicholls commented: "We continue to seek justice for our sister Annette.

"The full content of the MoD (Ministry of Defence) files has still not been disclosed, even 45 years after her killing.

"Our last resort is to apply to the Attorney General for Northern Ireland for a fresh inquest to examine in detail the available evidence and the full circumstances of Annette's killing."

The family claim the jury at the original inquest was presented with "inaccurate and incomplete information", which included a pathology report that concluded the cause of death was a deflected or ricocheted bullet.

Patricia Coyle of Harte Coyle Collins Solicitors & Solicitor Advocates said enough new evidence had been discovered to warrant a fresh inquest.

Ms Coyle explained: "We have submitted this application for a fresh inquest on the basis of four strands of new evidence. These include modern pathology evidence and analysis in relation to the gunshot wound to the head sustained by Annette; previously unseen military witness statements which were not submitted to the 1972 inquest; previously unseen film footage which records the direct aftermath of the shooting, and confirmation from a recent court hearing that the MoD hold an intelligence report in relation to that shooting which remains undisclosed."

Ms Coyle added: "There is a significant amount of evidence which was not before the 1972 inquest.

"This evidence, and the circumstances of Annette's death, merit proper judicial consideration by our courts.

"We remain concerned, however, that - even if the Attorney General grants a fresh inquest in this case - the infrastructure to support the family in their pursuit of information and justice remains effectively 'locked down' and obstructed because of the current political situation."

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