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

Soldier F and Soldier B were both being prosecuted.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

THE PROSECUTION OF two former soldiers over three deaths during the Troubles in Northern Ireland 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 Derry 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 British 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 this morning.

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.

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The shooting happened during Operation Motorman – an Army attempt to wrest control of areas of Derry from the IRA.

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 31 July 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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