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Woman recalls horror of watching boy shot by Army die in her arms


Margaret McCauley was with 15-year-old Manus when he was shot in the head by a soldier

Margaret McCauley was with 15-year-old Manus when he was shot in the head by a soldier

Manus Deery

Manus Deery

Margaret McCauley was with 15-year-old Manus when he was shot in the head by a soldier

A woman who saw the Army fatally shoot a 15-year-old boy in Londonderry has told an inquest into his death how she held his head and prayed into his ears as he took his final breaths.

Margaret McCauley (nee McCool), was among a number of civilian witnesses who gave evidence on the second day of a fresh hearing into the killing of Manus Deery.

The court also heard one witness admit he had lied about seeing Manus pointing a stick at soldiers, as if imitating a gun.

The victim was shot in the back of the head by William Glasgow, a private in the army serving in Derry in May 1972.

Mr Glasgow, who died in 2001, was identified for the first time at Monday's hearing.

Mrs McCauley, who was 14 years old at the time, said she was standing right behind Manus Deery when he was hit by a single bullet, fired from an Army observation point on the Derry Walls, overlooking the Bogside.

She explained: "I was leaning on Manus's shoulder when I heard a piercing sound and then Manus fell back. I thought he was mucking about, but then everyone was squealing.

"I put my hand under his head, and my hand was covered in blood. I remember crying and I prayed into his ear.

"I said the Our Father and the Hail Mary and, looking back, I think he was already dead."

Mrs McCauley also recalled that she, along with around seven other young people, were in an alleyway in the Bogside known as The Funnel.

They were looking at a handkerchief from Long Kesh, which an older alcoholic man was showing them, when the shot rang out, killing Mr Deery.

Her evidence mirrored that of other civilian witnesses. But questions were raised about a new witness - a man called Noel Duddy. Mr Duddy contacted the Coroner's office in June this year and told them he was with Manus Deery when he was shot.

However, all of the other civilian witnesses said Mr Duddy had not been with them.

In a written statement, Mr Duddy had said that Manus had a stick about three or four-foot long, which he pointed in the direction of the soldiers.

However, he retracted that claim in the witness box.

Mr Duddy, under cross-examination, further retracted part of his statement, in which he said he had a "vivid memory" of Manus gesturing in the direction of the soldiers with his hands as if he was firing a gun.

This came after the court heard that not one other witness, including the soldiers themselves, had mentioned anyone making such a gesture. Mr Duddy also claimed he told Manus not to make that gesture in case the soldiers shot him.

From the stand, he admitted: "It could be I made up this lie. My memory could be playing tricks on me and neither of these things may have happened."

When pressed as to whether he was even there - as every other witness had said he was not present - Mr Duddy added: "Someone did suggest that, but I was there."

The inquest reconvenes tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph