Paratrooper admits killing four on Bloody Sunday

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The Independent Online

A former paratrooper admitted to the Bloody Sunday inquiry yesterday that he had killed four of the civilians who died as a result of the events on that day.

The soldier had previously acknowledged that he shot three of those who died, but under cross-examination agreed he had also killed a fourth.

At the hearing at Central Hall in Westminster yesterday he accepted that he was being accused of responsibility for four murders. He maintained however that he was not guilty of murder, since those he shot were carrying bombs or guns. The inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville, is examining the events of 30 January 1972 when 13 civilians were shot dead by troops following a civil rights march in Londonderry. A 14th person died later.

The former lance-corporal, who has been granted anonymity and is referred to as soldier F, dramatically conceded that he had killed Barney McGuigan. Numerous witnesses have said that McGuigan was shot dead as he waved a white handkerchief while going to the aid of an injured man.

The injured man, Patrick Doherty, had earlier been shot by the same soldier and later died. Soldier F claimed Doherty was armed with a pistol. The soldier said he had shot and killed a teenager, Michael Kelly, at a barricade in Rossville Street and another man he claimed was hurling a nail bomb in Glenfada Park North.

This fourth man has been tentatively identified as William McKinney, who was shot in the Glenfada Park area.

Under questioning by Mike Mansfield QC, Soldier F admitted for the first time that he had killed 41-year-old McGuigan. When asked by the barrister if he would admit shooting McGuigan to his wife and six children, who were sitting in the public gallery, Soldier F said "yes".

Counsel for the Inquiry, Christopher Clarke, put it to the soldier: "What is alleged in relation to each of those four people is that you shot them without justification ­ that is to say that you murdered them. Do you follow?"

Mr Clarke said the facts seemed to indicate that Soldier F killed McKinney but, contrary to his evidence given to the Royal Military Police, he was facing away from him at the time. Soldier F said he did not murder them: "As I refer to my statements, the people I shot are the petrol bombers or a person who had a weapon."

Eilis McDermott QC, who represents Doherty's family, accused Soldier F of using a hunting shot, the "Texas heart shot", firing in through the buttock and through the heart. She declared: "That is the way you shot Mr Doherty was it not, as if you were hunting him down like an animal?" Soldier F, who said he used to hunt, said he had never heard of this shot.

Soldier F denied he had murdered Mr Doherty, insisting he fired at a man with a pistol south of the Rossville Flats. He went on: "I am very, very sorry for what happened on that day, but I am here to help the inquiry and to assist to tell the truth."

Asked by Ms McDermott what he was sorry about, Soldier F replied: "The circumstances that happened on that day. There was obviously innocent people killed ­ there was also gunmen and bombers killed."

Questioned by Seamus Treacy QC, the lawyer representing the Kelly family, Soldier F admitting killing the teenager but denied he had murdered him.

Mr Treacy said: "The overwhelming evidence in this case is that Michael Kelly was completely and utterly innocent at the time he was shot.

"Have you not got the guts now, F, to tell all of the people who are here the circumstances in which you killed Michael Kelly?"

Soldier F replied: "The circumstances which I was involved in that day was, I felt my life and the life of my fellow soldiers were under threat."

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