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Duo hit during fatal shooting of Marian Brown had to cower by wall, inquest hears

Marian Brown

The inquest into the fatal shooting of a pregnant teenager in west Belfast 45 years ago has heard from two more civilians injured in the same incident.

Marian Brown was 17 when she was killed in Roden Street in June, 1972. She had just kissed boyfriend Thomas Corrigan goodnight shortly before 1am when she was shot in the neck. It remains disputed whether the fatal rounds were fired by soldiers or a terrorist gunman in a passing car.

A lawyer for Miss Brown's family has accused the Army officer who ordered his men to open fire that night of manufacturing a story about the presence of three gunmen.

Yesterday the inquest at Laganside Courts heard a statement dated July 1974 from Elizabeth McManus, a shorthand typist who was also shot on Roden Street the same night.

Now living in Canada and terminally ill, she described to police how she walked home to Roden Street with her boyfriend Michael McGuigan and colleague Robert Laurence Wilson from the Abercorn Bar, where she worked.

Elizabeth said when they reached Roden Street it was quiet, with no people about, and then they heard two or more shots. The three huddled together for protection against a wall and tried to creep round the corner when they heard a burst of automatic gunfire that lasted for more than a minute.

Elizabeth said her right side went numb and she fell forward before being trailed round the corner by her friends, after which she lost consciousness.

She was carried to a house where a woman said to her: "You're all right - there is one girl up the street who has had half her face blown away."

Elizabeth was treated for two gunshot wounds, one in the forearm, shattering the bone, and the other in her right thigh.

Her work colleague Mr Wilson, an apprentice barman, said they left the pub at around 12.15am, but were unable to get a taxi due to disturbances in the city.

His statement said he and Michael decided to walk Elizabeth home. As they turned into Roden Street the whole area was quiet and there was nobody else in the vicinity. Elizabeth was lagging behind when they heard machine-gun fire, followed by more shooting and they crouched against the wall.

"I felt a bullet hitting me in the backside. Michael jumped up and ran round the corner and I crawled on my hands and knees," Mr Wilson said in the statement.

"Most of the shooting came from the Donegall Road end, but we also heard shooting from the Grosvenor Road."

Mr Wilson said Elizabeth had been injured and a woman came out of a house, thinking she was her son, but ran away.

After the shooting he spent 10 days in hospital being treated for injuries to his buttocks, which had been hit by three fragments of a ricocheted bullet.

"None of us were shooting or carrying firearms. I can give no reason why anyone would shoot or injure us," he told police.

The court heard a statement from Soldier C, a private with the Royal Anglian Regiment, C Company, who had been on patrol on Roden Street.

He said he had been positioned at a gate opposite number 58 when he heard two shots, but did not see a gunman.

Soldier C, also known as Mr Kendall, said he saw gun flashes from a dark figure. There were two or three bursts of automatic fire and he returned fire before his gun jammed and he had to go and clear the blockage.

Meanwhile, Soldier F, a private who was on sentry duty in a sanger, said he saw a muzzle flash in a corner of Roden Street and another gunman opened fire on the sanger.

"About 30 shots were fired at my position. The weapon used was a slow-firing heavy calibre automatic weapon," he said.

Constable John Moffat, who attended the scene, described observing bullet holes in a number of windows and doors of houses and said it was obvious some of the bullets had been recovered.

He said residents of Roden Street refused to let the police search their homes and told officers the Army had been responsible for the shooting.

Belfast Telegraph