Medical checks to decide if soldier will face inquest
A soldier implicated in the death of a teenager shot during a British Army operation in Londonderry nearly 40 years ago is to undergo a medical examination to determine if he is fit to give evidence at the inquest.
Fifteen-year-old Daniel Hegarty was killed during the controversial Operation Motorman on July 31, 1972 when thousands of troops using tanks and bulldozers smashed through barricades to reclaim no-go areas controlled by the IRA in Derry and Belfast.
Soldier B, as he is known, had applied earlier this year to be excused from the inquest on medical grounds.
However, at a preliminary hearing in Belfast yesterday the boy’s family heard that the soldier has now agreed to an independent medical examination.
A solicitor for the coroner, Fiona Doherty, told the hearing that they had been liaising with medical experts close to where Soldier B lives.
“A consultant psychiatrist has been identified and we hope a consultant cardiologist can be identified,” she said. “We hope to progress this relatively quickly.”
The Hegarty family had objected to the soldier’s application in June which was based on reports from two GPs and had asked for an independent medical assessment.
Daniel, who was unarmed, had gone with his two cousins to watch the tanks just yards from his Creggan home when Soldier B fired on them in disputed circumstances in the early hours of July 31. He was killed and one of his cousins was injured.
The boy's family reject the soldier's version of events that the boys were running at him and his colleagues in the now defunct Royal Scots Regiment and they ignored repeated shouted warnings.
The inquest has been scheduled to sit before a jury in Derry from February 28 to March 11, 2011.