Belfast Telegraph

Teenager shot dead by soldier in 1972 was totally innocent victim, rules coroner

By David Young, PA

The sister of a teenager killed by a soldier in Londonderry has said she feels "a great sense of peace" after a coroner declared the shooting was unjustified.

Manus Deery (15) was killed as he stood outside a chip shop in the Bogside area with friends in May 1972.

He was struck in the head by fragments of a bullet fired by Royal Welch Fusilier William Glasgow that ricocheted off a wall.

Yesterday, Coroner Adrian Colton ruled that not only was Mr Deery "a totally innocent victim" he was "not involved in any unlawful organisation or unlawful activity on the night of his death."

Mr Colton added: "He did not pose a threat to soldier or to anyone else. I have no hesitation or doubt in making this clear. The outcome of this inquest, above everything else must be seen to vindicate fully the character of Manus Deery."

Speaking outside court, Manus's sister Helen Deery said she was delighted his name had finally been cleared.

"We always knew Manus was innocent," she said. "This has been a long drawn-out process, there has been lots of hurdles along the way but it was worth it.

"I loved my brother, I am a bit sentimental today, kind of peaceful too. In a way it brings closure, there is a peaceful feeling and hopefully we can lay Manus to rest."

Ms Deery also referred to a meeting with John Wilson who was the army major in charge of Glasgow and a 'Soldier B' at the time of the shooting.

"He (Mr Wilson) was very emotional, he cried his eyes out in fact he left my sister's hair wet with his tears," she said.

"I accepted his apology. I believed him and I was very grateful for it. It meant the world to us that he met us and it meant the world to see that he was so sorry about it."

Mr Colton was heavily critical of the versions of what happened given at the time by Glasgow and Soldier B who were in an army look-out post on Derry's Walls and from where the fatal shot was fired.

Not only did Mr Colton not believe that there was any gunman in the Bogside where Manus and his friends were standing, he also described Glasgow's decision to shoot Mr Deery as "unjustified".

He used "disproportionate" force to a perceived threat. Glasgow also breached the 'Yellow Card' rules of engagement for soldiers serving in Northern Ireland during the Troubles - a conclusion reached by an Army investigation at the time but not declared outside of the MoD.

Soldier B gave evidence to this inquest, but Glasgow died a number of years ago.

Mr Colton said he did not believe a claim by Glasgow - described as a "trained military marksman" - that he fired at a gunman.

This was contrary to evidence given by all of the civilian witnesses during the inquest, including journalist Kevin Myers.

Mr Colton said: "Having heard all the evidence in this case I have come to the conclusion at the time the shot was fired there was no gunman in the vicinity.

"The most important objective evidence is that of Mr Myers. Of all the civilian witnesses he was in the best position to see a gunman if he was present.

"If there was a gunman he most surely would have seen him. This is not the sort of peripheral or insignificant matter which he might have missed.

"I have no doubt that if My Myers had seen a gunman he would have said so without hesitation."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph