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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
Bloody Sunday Trust/PA Images James Wray, left, and William McKinney, who died on Bloody Sunday
The Troubles

Military hearsay statements can be used in Soldier F's Bloody Sunday trial, judge rules

Former paratrooper Soldier F is accused of murdering James Wray and William McKinney in 1972.

LAST UPDATE | Aug 25th 2023, 12:36 PM

MILITARY HEARSAY STATEMENTS can be used as evidence in the trial of a veteran known as Soldier F who is accused of two murders on Bloody Sunday in Derry.

Sitting at the magistrates’ court in Derry, District Judge Ted Magill said he is satisfied the statements from five soldiers can be dealt with in a “fair, just and reliable fashion” by a trial judge.

He ruled that the evidence of a sixth witness cannot be admitted.

Former paratrooper Soldier F is accused of murdering James Wray and William McKinney in 1972 when members of the Parachute Regiment shot dead 13 civil rights protesters on the streets of the city.

The judge’s ruling centred around a bid by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to use evidence statements given to the 1972 Widgery Report and to the Royal Military Police by other soldiers in the Bogside on the day.

The PPS previously called a halt to the prosecution of Soldier F in 2021, citing concerns the case could collapse if it went to trial.

The decision to halt proceedings was challenged by McKinney’s family and last year the Divisional Court of the High Court in Belfast overturned the PPS’s move.

After reviewing its position, the PPS decided to resume the prosecution.

Bloody Sunday was one of the darkest days in the history of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

13  people were killed on the day and another man shot by paratroopers died four months later.

Many consider him the 14th victim of Bloody Sunday but his death was formally attributed to an inoperable brain tumour.

In a statement following the court’s decision, Mickey McKinney, William McKinney’s brother, said: “We welcome the decision of District Judge Magill to admit into evidence the statements of five former paratroopers.”

“Each of these witnesses provides significant evidence of Soldier F being present in Glenfada Park firing his weapon,” he said.

“We look forward now with renewed confidence to Soldier F being formally returned to stand trial for murder and attempted murder as expeditiously as possible.”

Press Association