Belfast Telegraph

Soldier shot IRA man on the ground, inquest told

An SAS soldier shot an armed IRA member as he lay wounded on the ground but did not tell police on the advice of the Army, an inquest heard yesterday.

Dessie Grew (37) and Martin McCaughey (23) were killed when soldiers fired 72 bullets at them near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.

Three AK assault rifles were later found near the bodies of the dead men.

A man known only as Soldier D recounted how he opened fire on the men after a senior colleague fired the first shot.

It later emerged the republicans did not shoot, and the soldiers have said they were firing at flashes they now believe were caused by their own gunshots.

Soldier D was being cross-examined by the barrister for the families, Karen Quinlivan, on differences in statements he gave in 1990 and 2011.

He confirmed that in the first few seconds after the shooting started, he shot McCaughey, who had already been felled by the first bullets shot by Soldier A.

Asked why he had not revealed to police at the time that he had shot a man while he was on the ground, Soldier D said: “My legal adviser told me to say that.”

Ms Quinlivan said: “And you were told by your legal adviser not to communicate that to the RUC?”

The soldier said that was correct, and added: “I wasn't very happy about that. And I reported that after the event.” He said he fired because he believed McCaughey was still a threat.

He said of the advice given to him by the military: “I raised it when I went back to my organisation.”

Soldier D said: “I did complain. I complained vigorously.”

The military witness gave evidence from behind a curtain at Laganside courts in Belfast.

The inquest is one of several so-called security force shoot-to-kill incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations.

Troops had a mushroom shed near Loughgall under surveillance amid suspicions a stolen vehicle inside was to be used for terrorism.

On the night of the shootings, Soldier D said he was told on his radio that two armed men were at the barn.

He said that issuing a warning would have put the troops at risk, and after a colleague opened fire he said he believed a gun battle had broken out.

The inquest continues.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph