A former soldier said he discussed the 1971 shooting of a Londonderry mother-of-six with the colleague believed to have fired the fatal shots ‘once the persecutions of the soldiers started’ some years later.
The witness identified as KTM 25 told the resumed Kathleen Thompson inquest that he served alongside and was friendly with Soldier D.
The inquest was told by KTM 25 that he could not remember the incident when Mrs Thompson was shot.
The 47-year-old was killed in disputed circumstances outside her home in Creggan during an Army operation in November 1971.
An inquest in 1972 into Mrs Thompson’s death returned an open verdict.
A fresh inquest began in 2018 but was adjourned so that three soldiers could be traced. It resumed on Monday.
Yesterday KTM 25 agreed with Ian Skelt QC, counsel for the coroner, that it was an ‘unusual event’ for a mother to be shot but could not remember it.
He said that shootings ‘were happening all the time.’
KTM 25 said he served alongside Soldier D — who is believed to have fired the shots — and was friendly with him but added they did not discuss the incident with Soldier D until the late 1990s.
The inquest was told by KTM 25 that Soldier D ‘had always maintained he had fired at a gunman.’
He said that once the subject of Mrs Thompson came up Soldier D had told him ‘it had happened, he had been investigated and he had been cleared.’
Mr Skelt QC asked KTM 25 how did the conversation about Mrs Thompson’s death go.
The former soldier said: “He was in an incident where he came under fire, he returned fire and almost certainly hit the gunman because he was a good shot.
“The next thing they know they find a woman has been shot.
“He said it could have been him, it could have been the gunman or even a ricochet. “
The inquest was told Soldier D was ‘surprised and upset’ when he found out about Mrs Thompson.
Under questioning by Karen Quinlivan QC, counsel for the Thompson family, KTM 25 said it would have been ‘a big deal’ for another soldier to be investigated for shooting a civilian and for shooting at other soldiers but he could not recall it.
KTM 25 referred to the investigation into Soldier D and other soldiers as ‘vexatious litigation’.
Ms Quinlivan asked KTM 25 if he believed that soldiers were being persecuted by being investigated and he answered ‘of course I do’ and added ‘there’ s an awful lot of it going on.’
When pressed as to whether he believed the shooting of a woman in her own back garden should be investigated the former soldier said all shootings should be investigated.
He replied: “Sixty men in my own regiment were shot and killed and none of them are being investigated. I wonder why.”
Another former soldier who served in Derry in 1971 has told the inquest that the first time he heard about the killing was in 2019 when he was contacted by the Coroner’s service.
The former soldier, identified as KTM 290, said that he had been serving with the Royal Green Jackets in 1971 and was in Northern Ireland from May 1971 until January 1973.
He was asked did he recall some of the former soldiers who have made statements to the inquest and said he did not remember a soldier identified as Soldier D who has said he fired the fatal shots that killed Mrs Thompson.
KTM 290 was asked did he know another former soldier, KTM72 who claimed he may have fired the shots, and the witness said he did not remember this man either.
The witness was asked about a statement from Soldier E who claimed he was told to shoot first ‘and ask questions later’
KTM 290 said that this statement was ‘factually incorrect’ and that no one had given such orders.
Mr Skelt asked had a named soldier given such an order and the witness replied: “I don’t believe he would have given that order to anyone.”
Mr Skelt described the shooting of Mrs Thompson as ‘unusual as it was not the shooting of a young male who may have been engaged in some sort of illegal activity’ and asked had KTM 290 heard any conversation about it.
The former soldier said he heard nothing about it and knew nothing about it until he was contacted in 2019.
The witness was also asked about reports that one soldier had opened fire on other soldiers - a so-called ‘green on green’ incident - and said he had never heard anything about it.
The former soldier was asked about the statement made by KTM72 who claimed that this witness would have been present the night Mrs Thompson was shot.
The former soldier answered: "I don’t remember being there".
It was also put to him that KTM72 had claimed the witness had been in C Company of the Royal Green Jackets and KTM 290 replied ‘never’.
The hearing continues.