IRA men were about to shoot at us, soldiers will tell inquest
Soldiers who opened fire on two IRA men 22 years ago are to tell an inquest into the deaths that they feared they were about to be attacked, a court has heard.
One of Northern Ireland’s oldest outstanding inquests opened in Belfast on Monday to examine the deaths of Martin McCaughey (23) and Dessie Grew (37) who were killed at isolated farm buildings near Loughgall in Co Armagh in October 1990.
Their deaths prompted allegations that they were victims of a British “shoot-to-kill” policy. It is believed the building where they died had been under SAS surveillance.
Twelve soldiers, who have all been granted anonymity, and five former RUC officers, are due to give evidence to the inquest.
The jury was told by Coroner Brian Sherrard that throughout the three-week hearing it would hear evidence from the soldiers that they believed the men were going to fire at them.
In a statement read to the court Dr Brian Cupples, who checked the men’s bodies shortly after they died, said that two guns lay close to the victims’ bodies and that ammunition was inside one of the men’s pockets. He said one of the men was wearing a green boiler suit and gloves.
“There was evidence of multiple gunshot wounds to the body. There was no evidence of any struggle having taken place after the shooting, with death occurring at the immediate time of the shooting,” he said.
The other man was wearing a jersey, jeans and gloves. He was lying face up and a rifle was nearby.
“A rifle magazine was protruding from the trouser pocket,” Dr Cupples said.
Mr McCaughey’s sister, Sally Gribben, told the inquest that her brother, who worked as a builder, had been engaged to be married at the time of his death. She said she heard about his death the following morning when a family member broke the news.
Philip O’Neill, a brother-in-law of Mr Grew, told the court he had identified the dead man’s body at Craigavon mortuary. He said that Mr Grew was unmarried and had been working as a car dealer.
The coroner said that the deaths remain a concern to their family and friends. He told the jury that they will want to consider how and why the men came to be at the farm buildings and also consider the security operation that culminated in the deaths.
IRA men Martin McCaughey (23) and Dessie Grew (37) were shot dead by SAS soldiers at isolated farm buildings near Loughgall in Co Armagh in 1990. Their deaths prompted allegations that they were victims of a British “shoot-to-kill” policy. The farm was believed to have been under surveillance by the SAS. Three rifles were found nearby afterwards. An inquest into their deaths opened on Monday at Belfast’s Laganside courthouse.