Belfast Telegraph

Troll targets sister of boy shot by Army in Derry after inquest into killing

Troll targets woman after inquest into Army killing

By Donna Deeney

The sister of a 15-year-old boy shot dead by a soldier almost 46 years ago has endured vile online abuse because she hugged the killer's commanding officer after he broke down during the inquest.

Last April Coroner Adrian Colton declared Manus Deery "totally innocent" of any wrongdoing and said the boy had not posed a threat to anyone.

The coroner laid the blame for his death on the soldier who fired at him in the Bogside. The soldier is now dead.

Retired Army major John Wilson, the killer's officer, was among witnesses to give evidence at the inquest.

He said in court that he had been told Manus was armed, and had believed this for 45 years before learning it was a lie.

He revealed he had been told the teenager was blameless just weeks before the start of the inquest. Mr Wilson apologised to the Deery family in court, wept, and said he would remember Manus in his prayers.

As he left the courtroom, Manus's sister Helen Deery followed him and thanked him for his apology before putting her arms around the tearful pensioner and hugging him. However, the gesture rankled with some people, who have been trolling Ms Deery on Facebook.

A defiant Ms Deery said that while the cruel words from the account of a Belfast-based man had hurt her, she did not regret her actions. She said: "For 45 years I carried the heavy burden of seeking justice for my brother Manus and proving his innocence and I achieved that with the inquest.

"The Army officer who came and gave evidence was clearly very genuine and that could be seen by everyone in court. It was in the way he walked, spoke and looked at us sitting across from him, and broke down."

Ms Deery said she had been trolled by the man since the end of the inquest.

"I have never spoken a word to him in my life but he is so filled with hatred for an act of compassion I showed to a former soldier who was able to give me a heartfelt, genuine apology for what had happened to my brother," she said.

"This latest attack which he posted on Facebook at the weekend did make me cry when I read it. My heart sunk because I can't understand these people who think they know what I need and would deny me peace of mind after 45 years.

"He did make me cry, but he didn't make me sorry for hugging the soldier. I would do it again, and in fact I would like to write to the soldier and tell him how much peace of mind he gave me. He lifted the whole burden off my shoulders that day.

"All I needed was a wee bit of compassion and a genuine apology, and I got that from him but I don't think he knows that."

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