Cases against two former soldiers accused of murder in Northern Ireland in 1972 collapse

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Cases against two former soldiers accused of murder in Northern Ireland in 1972 collapse


The case against a former British soldier accused of murdering a teenager in Londonderry in 1972 has collapsed – and a separate case against another accused in connection with the Bloody Sunday shooting has also been arrested.

A veteran, known only as Soldier B, had been accused of shooting Daniel Hegarty, 15, during an army operation at Creggan’s estate in Derry on July 31, 1972.

Ten years ago, an investigation revealed that Daniel had presented no risk to the soldiers and had been shot twice in the head without warning.

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Private F has been charged with the murder of James Wray (L) and William McKinney

Originally told he would not face prosecution, the veteran learned in 2019 that he was charged with the teenager’s murder.

The other veteran, a former member of the Parachute Regiment known only as Soldier F, was charged with the murder of William McKinney and James Wray in Londonderry.

Thirteen people were shot dead and a 14th fatally injured when British soldiers opened fire after a civil rights march through the town in 1972.

The soldier, who remained anonymous during a public inquiry, was also charged with the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon, Patrick O’Donnell and Michael Quinn.

The families of the victims were informed of the decisions in meetings on Friday morning.

Mickey McKinney, brother of William McKinney, vowed to keep fighting.

“This issue is far from settled. We will continue to fight, ”he said.

Analysis by David Blevins, senior correspondent for Ireland

Bloody Sunday was one of the darkest days of unrest in Northern Ireland and it continues to cast a shadow.

The British Army shooting of 14 people in 1972 threw gasoline on the flames, recruiting hundreds for the IRA.

Forty-nine years later, the search for justice continues and has become a symbol of the difficulty in addressing the past here.

In this city of two names – Derry for some, Londonderry for others – there would never be an acceptable outcome.

Bloody Sunday resulted in the longest and most expensive public inquiry ever held in the UK.

But the families of the victims were disappointed when prosecutors decided that a single veteran would face charges.

They will be devastated by the fact that the case against this former soldier collapsed before she reached trial.

With legislation aimed at limiting ongoing historic lawsuits, families may now struggle to find a closure.

Lawyer Ciaran Shiels added: “We informed the prosecution this morning of our intention to seek immediate judicial review of its decision to drop the charges against Private F.

Des Doherty, lawyer for Daniel Hegarty’s family, has urged police to request a new statement from Private B, if the 1972 statements can no longer be used as evidence.

He urged Private B to surrender voluntarily to the police for questioning on bail, and demanded that he be arrested if he does not.

Labor Party Secretary in Northern Ireland Louise Haigh tweeted: “This is a devastating decision for families. My thoughts are with them and with all of those who suffered the terrible consequences of Bloody Sunday. “

The decisions not to prosecute follow a review of the evidence in the cases by the PPS – and come two months after the trial of two former members of the Parachute Regiment in Belfast.

Soldiers A and C were charged with the murder of former IRA commander Joe McCann, but evidence deemed essential to the case was ruled inadmissible.

The statements former soldiers made to the military in 1972 and to the historical investigation team in 2010 had not been made with caution.

The prosecution said it would re-examine the files of seven other cases involving veterans, including Soldiers B and F.

In May, the British government announced its intention to limit historic prosecutions by imposing a statute of limitations for offenses committed before the Good Friday deal.

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