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Prosecution of ex-soldiers over Troubles cases including Bloody Sunday halted

The families of the victims were informed of the PPS decision on Friday morning.

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A Bloody Sunday mural (Liam McBurney/PA)

A Bloody Sunday mural (Liam McBurney/PA)

A Bloody Sunday mural (Liam McBurney/PA)

The prosecution of two former soldiers over three deaths during Northern Ireland’s troubled past have been halted.

Soldier F was being prosecuted for the murder of two men, James Wray and William McKinney, shot during a civil rights demonstration in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

Soldier B was to be prosecuted for the murder of 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty in the city six months later.

The discontinuation of the high-profile prosecutions follows a review of the cases by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in light of a recent court ruling that caused the collapse of another Troubles murder trial involving two military veterans.

The Crown cases against both Soldier F and Soldier B hinged on evidence of a similar nature to that which was ruled inadmissible in April’s trial of Soldier A and Soldier C for the 1972 murder of Official IRA leader Joe McCann in Belfast.

The families of the victims in both cases were informed of the PPS decisions in private meetings in a Derry hotel on Friday morning.

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The family of William McKinney, who was killed in the Bloody Sunday shootings on January 30 1972, arrive at the City Hotel in Londonderry for a meeting with the Public Prosecution Service (Liam McBurney/PA)

The family of William McKinney, who was killed in the Bloody Sunday shootings on January 30 1972, arrive at the City Hotel in Londonderry for a meeting with the Public Prosecution Service (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

The family of William McKinney, who was killed in the Bloody Sunday shootings on January 30 1972, arrive at the City Hotel in Londonderry for a meeting with the Public Prosecution Service (Liam McBurney/PA)

Soldier F, an ex-paratrooper, was accused of murdering Mr Wray and Mr McKinney on Bloody Sunday on January 30 1972, when troops opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in Derry’s Bogside, killing 13 people.

He also stood accused of the attempted murders of Patrick O’Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn. He faced a further supporting charge of the attempted murder of a person or persons unknown on the day.

The case against him had reached the stage of a committal hearing at Derry Magistrates’ Court to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

In the case of Soldier B, the PPS had announced in 2019 an intention to prosecute him for the murder of Daniel and the wounding with intent of his cousin Christopher Hegarty, then aged 16.

The shooting happened during Operation Motorman – an Army attempt to wrest control of no-go areas of Derry from the grip of the IRA.

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Des Doherty, the solicitor for the family of Daniel Hegarty, speaks to the media following news the prosecution will not go ahead (Liam McBurney/PA)

Des Doherty, the solicitor for the family of Daniel Hegarty, speaks to the media following news the prosecution will not go ahead (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Des Doherty, the solicitor for the family of Daniel Hegarty, speaks to the media following news the prosecution will not go ahead (Liam McBurney/PA)

Daniel and Christopher, who had gone to watch the military operation, were shot after encountering an Army patrol in the Creggan area in the early hours of July 31, 1972.

The PPS had not yet got to the stage of issuing summons to formally commence the prosecution of Soldier B – a delay caused by the veteran’s unsuccessful High Court bid to challenge the move to bring charges against him.

His planned prosecution will now no longer proceed.


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