Belfast Telegraph

Family’s frustration at lack of answers over soldier death

Captain Jonathan Price was given an 18-month prison sentence over the death of Ranger Michael Maguire.

The brother of a young soldier who was shot dead during a training exercise has spoken of his frustration and sadness at his family’s struggle for answers.

Jimmy Maguire had travelled to Wiltshire from Ireland with his sister Sheila and father Michael to see three Army officers sentenced for their roles in the death of Ranger Michael Maguire, 21.

Mr Maguire said his family did not want to see anyone go to prison or lose their career but just wanted answers to how their loved one died.

“We attended the inquest in early 2013 and from that it was established what had happened that led to Mike’s death,” Mr Maguire said in a victim impact statement he read to the court.

“It was however not established how it happened. We left the inquest understanding that it seemed errors were made on that day.

“However, it was not at all clear how these errors came to happen. Because some people who had responsibility on the day chose not to give evidence at the inquest, we walked away with a lot of questions that were not answered.

“These were questions that stuck with us for six years. When I was told about the court martial I felt that now – six years later – that these questions would be answered.

“I did not think I would be returning home having not heard the version of events from two of the three accused.

“I am no longer angry but I am very frustrated and deeply saddened. We did not come here because we want to see someone go to prison or lose their job or career.

“We came over here to understand entirely how this accident happened. We take no comfort in the verdict – no matter what it is – it changes nothing.

“It does not bring Mike back and will do nothing to comfort us in Mike’s absence for the future.”

Mr Maguire said the loss of his younger brother had been “truly heart-breaking” and “continues to be the most difficult and relentless thing we have had to do”.

“He should still be alive, he should be enjoying his life but instead he was buried the day before his 22nd birthday,” he said.

Mr Maguire said the loss of his brother had been particularly difficult for his mother, father and sister.

“I think about how he wasn’t by my side on my wedding or how I’m writing a victim impact statement and will never get to write a best man’s speech for him,” he said.

“I think about how he won’t be around as an uncle for my two young boys.”

He fought back tears as he spoke of the last time he saw his brother.

“I remember the last time I spoke with him. It was about three weeks before the exercise in Castlemartin and he knew he wasn’t going to be home before his deployment in Kenya and so spent his time at home calling to all his friends,” he said.

“I remember as he was leaving he knew he wouldn’t be home again for a long time and so he shook my hand and said ‘Sure I’ll see you whenever’.

“He is a massive loss to our lives and the lives of those who knew him and I hope he rests in peace.”

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