Belfast Telegraph

Soldier 'has serious convictions'

A soldier with serious offences on his record may have been part of the elite unit which shot dead two IRA men in Northern Ireland 30 years ago, a coroner's court has heard.

Daniel Doherty, 23, and William Fleming, 19, were killed in the grounds of Gransha Hospital in Londonderry in December 1984.

It was alleged that the pair, who were both from Derry, were planning to carry out an attack on an off-duty member of the Ulster Defence Regiment when soldiers ambushed them, firing almost 60 shots.

The SAS and the Army's 14th Intelligence Company were believed to have been involved.

At a preliminary inquiry barrister Karen Quinlivan QC argued against protecting the identity of the Army captain because his name was already well known.

She said: "If we are right, his name is in the public domain."

Ms Quinlivan asked the court to look into claims that the officer also had serious convictions on his record for crimes committed outside Northern Ireland.

"There are suggestions that this captain has serious convictions on his record and that they took place in Sweden. We would invite the court to explore."

The hearing at Mays Chambers in Belfast was told three other soldiers had declined to be interviewed by the investigating officer appointed to the case and had refused to make a further statements for the inquest.

Four others have yet to give attitude, the court heard.

Concerns were also raised that the process employed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to protect the identities of former personnel had rendered some information useless.

Ms Quinlivan said inconsistencies in the ciphering system meant legal teams were unable to ascertain if soldiers had been involved in other incidents where lethal force was deployed.

She added: "It is clear that the information provided to us is useless without the other ciphers."

Meanwhile, a barrister acting for the MoD refuted claims that former soldiers had been told not to co-operate with the inquest.

Kevin Rooney said: "There is no evidence of that whatsoever."

Coroner Jim Kitson said the issue was not one for his court.

Mr Kitson said: "If, on receipt of one of these letters they decide to speak to the MoD for advice, that's not a matter that this court can deal with."

Another preliminary hearing has been scheduled for December 4.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph