Belfast Telegraph

Impossible to identify type of bullet that killed pregnant Belfast Marian Brown, inquest told

By Rebecca Black

It is not possible to determine what sort of bullet killed a pregnant teenager in a disputed shooting in west Belfast 45 years ago, Northern Ireland's former State Pathologist Jack Crane has said.

The second inquest into the death of Marian Brown has received evidence from five different pathologists as it attempts to find evidence of who shot the teenager.

She died following the incident on Roden Street on June 10, 1972, shortly after kissing her boyfriend Thomas Corrigan goodnight.

In the 45 years since Marian's death, it has not been proven who shot her.

During the second inquest into her death, there has been disagreement among expert witnesses over the velocity of bullets that caused her wounds.

They agree that a bullet which passed through Marian's neck would have caused her to immediately collapse and die a short time later.

Professor Thomas Marshall, Northern Ireland's State Pathologist at the time of Marian's death, initially found that she had been shot by a Thompson submachine gun.

However, appearing at the inquest last week, Mr Marshall said he had seen further information since he examined the body in 1972 that made him reconsider that finding.

He told the inquest he was now reviewing his earlier statement, and now cannot say that one weapon was more likely than the other to have caused her wounds.

Appearing at the inquest yesterday, Professor Jack Crane said it was not possible to tell what sort of bullet killed Marian.

"I don't think you can tell, I am not prepared to speculate," he told the inquest.

However, three other pathologists who examined photographs taken during the original autopsy carried out by Professor Marshall, felt it was likely due to the nature of her internal injuries that Marian was shot by a high-velocity bullet.

This was put to Professor Crane who responded saying: "I can see where they are coming from, but I am more guarded."

He added his disapproval at speculation over the velocity of a bullet by examining the wound it caused.

"You can't do it and shouldn't try to do it," he said. "It is unhelpful, it is unscientific, and can cause some degree of confusion - it shouldn't be done."

The type of bullet which struck Marian has come into focus during the inquest as efforts are made to determine who shot her.

Soldiers at that time in Belfast used SLR rifles which fired high-velocity bullets, while the IRA were known to have used Thompson submachine guns which fired medium velocity bullets.

The inquest is set to hear evidence from soldiers who were on patrol in the area at the time of the shooting.

One has suggested they saw a gunman at the corner of Roden Street and the Grosvenor Road, and had been returning fire.

But a number of eyewitnesses have told the inquest that they did not see any gunmen in that area.

Earlier at the hearing, the inquest heard from Moya Hughes, a babysitter who had been walking home during the shooting.

The then 16 year-old had been babysitting for David Clarke and his wife Josephine.

She told the inquest they had returned home late and Mr Clarke - who she had known by his middle name Maurice - had walked her home along Roden Street towards where she lived on Blackwater Street when the shooting started.

"I heard four or five shots. Maurice told me to get down and he shielded me on the ground," she said.

"I remember getting up and running to my brother's house and stayed there for the night."

Today the inquest is expected to hear evidence from 'Soldier A' who was one of the military personnel in an eight man patrol in the area at the time of the shooting.

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