SAS soldier made up account of attack, IRA inquest told
An SAS soldier manufactured an account of the shooting of two IRA members in order to cover up the use of excessive force, a court has heard.
Dessie Grew (37), and Martin McCaughey (23), died when troops fired 72 bullets at the pair near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.
At the ongoing inquest into their deaths last Friday, the military witness, who gave evidence from behind a curtain at Laganside courts in Belfast, was identified only as Soldier C.
A barrister representing the men's families, Karen Quinlivan, contested claims that he fired 19 rounds because he believed he was under attack, though it later emerged that the republicans did not shoot.
She said: “That is an account that you have made up in order to justify the extreme force that you used on the night in question.”
Soldier C confirmed that the troops gave no warning before firing, but he rejected claims that he had fabricated his account and said that he had opened fire in response to flashes that later emerged to have been caused by bullets fired by the soldiers.
The jury heard Soldier C had claimed to have opened fire because he believed his life and those of the other troops were at risk.
The inquest, which is in its fifth day, is one of several into so-called security force “shoot-to-kill” incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations.
Soldier C said he saw flashes through his night vision gun sight and moved forward with another soldier, firing as they closed in on the barn: “It’s a lot safer for us to do that than sit there and do nothing,” he said.
He said that firing stopped when they believed the shots being fired at troops had ended, but the barrister questioned this account because the troops were responding to flashes caused by their own bullets.
She said: “I am suggesting to you, Soldier C, that what you are saying makes absolutely no sense.”
The soldier answered: “That is your opinion and you are welcome to it.”
He added: “I believed my life and the lives of my team members were in danger.”
The inquest continues.