Belfast Telegraph

Family of boy shot dead in Derry to relaunch civil case against soldier

By Donna Deeney

The family of a schoolboy gunned down over 40 years ago say they are "disgusted" after the Public Prosecution Service decided not to take action against the soldier who killed him.

Relatives of Daniel Hegarty now plan to pursue a civil case.

Daniel was 15 when he was shot twice in the head by a man known only as 'Soldier B' in the Creggan area of Londonderry in July 1972.

Five years ago a second inquest into the circumstances that led to his death opened in Derry and found that he was totally innocent and "posed no risk" to anyone.

It resulted in the coroner referring the case back to the PPS for a third time.

Mr Hegarty's sister Margaret Brady told the Belfast Telegraph she was disgusted with the PPS and warned Soldier B to expect a summons to appear in court as part of a civil case the family has instigated.

Mrs Brady said: "I do not think for one second the Prosecution Service were in any way actually interested in getting justice for our brother Daniel.

"But if they are not, we are, and we will not stop just because the Prosecution Service isn't interested.

"We began civil action in 2012 after the second inquest but put it on hold to see what the Prosecution Service would decide.

"I have no hatred against that soldier.

"This has nothing to do with hatred, nor is it about revenge.

"It is about justice, and that is something the Prosecution Service knows nothing about.

"It took us nearly four decades after Daniel died to get the second inquest, but we did it in the end, so we will get a prosecution too, no matter how long it takes us.

"They told us the soldier made a spilt-second decision when he feared his life was in danger.

"But what they have done now is open the floodgates for every soldier and every Tom, Dick and Harry to walk into a court and say they thought their life was in danger and expect to get off.

"That soldier did not make a spilt-second decision because evidence came out in the inquest in 2011 that showed he watched Daniel and his two cousins walk up the street and cross the road in broad daylight, then he stepped out from where he was and shot them, killing Daniel.

"The soldier that killed Daniel probably knew the Prosecution Service decision before we were told and he probably thinks he has gotten away with it.

"But he doesn't know Daniel's sisters and we will never give up, so he needs to prepare for the knock on the door." Mrs Brady said she believed the PPS decision would now prompt other former soldiers facing prosecutions for similar offences to use the same line of defence.

Among the most high-profile of these is the case involving members of the Parachute Regiment who killed 14 people on Bloody Sunday.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael (17) was among the dead, said he remains confident that they will see prosecutions, but described the decision in the case of Daniel Hegarty as "worrying".

Explaining the outcome of the review, the PPS's assistant director of central casework, Michael Agnew, said that after testing the evidence currently available it concluded there was "no reasonable prospect of a conviction".

Belfast Telegraph


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