Belfast Telegraph

£250k payout for man who 'played dead' after Bloody Sunday shooting

Rioting during Bloody Sunday in 1972
Rioting during Bloody Sunday in 1972
William McKinney, one of the 13 victims

By Alan Erwin

A man who pretended to be dead after being shot by a soldier on Bloody Sunday is to receive £250,000 in damages, the High Court heard yesterday.

The settlement was reached in Joe Mahon's compensation claim for serious injuries inflicted on him at the age of 16 in Londonderry in January 1972.

He is believed to have been hit by the same bullet that claimed the life of another victim.

Thirteen unarmed people were killed when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire during a civil rights demonstration in the city.

Another of those wounded, which became known as Bloody Sunday, died later.

In 2010 the Saville Inquiry into the shootings established the innocence of all of the victims.

Those findings led to David Cameron, the Prime Minister at the time, issuing a public apology for the soldiers' actions.

He described the killings as "unjustified and unjustifiable".

More than £3m has now been paid out in a series of settlements and awards made in claims against the Ministry of Defence on behalf of those bereaved or injured.

With liability accepted in all cases, proceedings brought by Mr Mahon centred on the level of payout.

He was shot in the hip and abdomen as he tried to flee the gunfire at Glenfada Park.

According to his lawyers he then lay on the ground, pretending to be dead.

An Army veteran, identified only as Soldier F, has been charged with his attempted murder as well as the murders of two men killed on the day, James Wray and William McKinney.

The Saville Inquiry found the same bullet probably struck both Mr Mahon and Mr McKinney.

Along with the physical pain he still suffers in his hip and back, Mr Mahon was said to be plagued by guilt that he survived while others died.

At the time of the shootings he had arranged to leave school in order to start a joinery apprenticeship.

But due to his serious injuries and subsequent poor health, he only secured steady employment in 2009 when he obtained a job as a supervisor.

Now aged 63, Mr Mahon sued for aggravated damages and loss of earnings.

Following negotiations his barrister told the court that a resolution had been reached.

"The action is settled for £250,000 and costs," Brian Fee QC said.

Confirming the outcome, Mr Justice McAlinden told the lawyers: "I'm obliged to the parties for their efforts in resolving this matter."

Outside court Mr Mahon's solicitor, Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane, said: "My client has already achieved his primary aim of securing the exoneration of his own character and establishing the innocence of all of those who were murdered and wounded, yet he still carries with him the physical and mental scars of the events of that day.

"He has continued to hold the state accountable for its actions on Bloody Sunday and will continue to do so until those responsible have been successfully prosecuted."

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