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I was doing my job, claims rubber bullet death soldier

By Staff Reporter

Published 27/04/2016

A soldier who fired the rubber bullet that killed 11-year-old Belfast schoolboy Frank Rowntree in 1972 has told an inquest into the death:
A soldier who fired the rubber bullet that killed 11-year-old Belfast schoolboy Frank Rowntree in 1972 has told an inquest into the death: "I was doing my job."

A soldier who fired the rubber bullet that killed 11-year-old Belfast schoolboy Frank Rowntree in 1972 has told an inquest into the death: "I was doing my job."

Frank Rowntree died in the Royal Victoria Hospital two days after being hit by the bullet in the west of the city in April 1972.

The soldier who fired the bullet, named only as Soldier B, gave evidence to yesterday's inquest by video link, but the Rowntree family were not permitted to view the video screen.

The soldier said he had no specific memory of the day. "It seems lame to say so, but it was just one of a series of incidents throughout the tour," he added.

He told the inquest he was sitting with others in an Army vehicle parked near Divis Tower when a group of youths began throwing missiles and gelignite bombs at his position.

He said that because the crowd was close to the vehicle he decided to fire a baton round.

The first round struck a lamppost and bounced away, he claimed, so he fired a second at the centre of a crowd of youths and saw someone fall. Later, he added, he saw an ambulance come for the person.

Asked about firing baton rounds at groups of people that may have included innocent people and children, Soldier B replied: "There may have been women or children in that crowd, but that's not what you're seeing. Your life is at risk. Your comrades are at risk."

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