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'Object of interest' found after exhumation of 1972 MRF shooting victim

Published 22/11/2016

Teenager Daniel Rooney, who was shot dead in West Belfast more than 40 years ago (PSNI/PA)
Teenager Daniel Rooney, who was shot dead in West Belfast more than 40 years ago (PSNI/PA)

Police have found an "object of interest" after exhuming the remains of a teenager killed by an undercover Army unit more than 40 years ago.

Eighteen-year-old Daniel Rooney was shot dead by soldiers from the secretive Military Reaction Force (MRF) in the St James Crescent area of West Belfast on September 26 1972.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil McGuinness, who is leading the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) investigation, said: "Mr Rooney's body has now been removed to allow some forensic work to be carried out; however, at this stage, we can confirm that we have found an object of interest that will be submitted for further forensic tests in due course."

The exhumation, which was completed on Monday, was ordered to discover if there were any bullet fragments among the teenager's remains.

No post-mortem examination was undertaken at the time of Mr Rooney's death although a medical report noted a bullet entry wound but made no mention of an exit wound.

The complex dig at Milltown Cemetery in West Belfast is part of a wider investigation by detectives into allegations that the MRF carried out random and unjustified shootings during the Troubles.

Mr McGuinness said police were continuing to liaise with the family and would " keep them informed of any further developments".

The wide-ranging probe by the PSNI's Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) was triggered after a referral by Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory.

Mr McGuinness said the investigation was probably the most complex he had experienced in 20 years in policing.

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