Belfast Telegraph

Man recalls how his pal was shot dead in one of Troubles' first murders

Richard Leppington with Darragh MacIntryre
Richard Leppington with Darragh MacIntryre
Peter Ward
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

A survivor of the terrorist murder that is widely regarded as the start of the Troubles has been back to the scene off the Shankill Road where his friend Peter Ward was killed by the UVF.

Richard Leppington, who says a woman in the area saved his life by giving him shelter in her house, was filmed returning to Malvern Street for Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History.

"I'm not real fond of being here," says Mr Leppington. "This is not good memories."

After the production team point out where the Malvern Arms public house once was, Mr Leppington, who had gone there as a 16 year old for a drink with Peter Ward and two other Catholic colleagues from a city centre bar, recalls hearing bangs and seeing flashes as he left the premises.

He says he ran "pretty fast" down the street before turning back to see a man standing over someone on the ground.

"I just panicked, turned and ran back down," he says, adding that a woman brought him into her house. "She saved my life. I'm ashamed to say I don't even know her name. I'm sure I knew it then."

The next time he saw Peter Ward, whom he describes as a "fun-loving guy" who was enjoying life, was in an open coffin at his mother's house. "I couldn't look very long at it," he says.

UVF leader Gusty Spence was one of a number of men convicted of Peter Ward's murder.

Days after the killing, the Queen's limousine was attacked on Great Victoria Street by a Catholic builder.

The Spotlight researchers have found footage of the moment when the breeze block he threw hits the Rolls Royce as the Duke of Edinburgh turns around to see what has happened.

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