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Bullet found in exhumed Ballymurphy victim's body

Janet Donnelly whose father Joseph Murphy was killed in Ballymurphy in 1971. Picture by Hugh Russell

A BULLET has been found in the exhumed body of a father-of-12 who was killed in the 'Ballymurphy massacre'.

The body of Joseph Murphy, who died 13 days after he was shot in west Belfast in August 1971, was exhumed due to conflicting medical evidence from the time.

Mr Murphy's family believe he was shot twice in the leg - once at Ballymurphy and then again at the Henry Taggart Memorial Hall, then being used as a barracks.

Last year, coroner Jim Kitson granted the exhumation because of the "exceptional circumstances" of the case.

British soldiers from the Parachute Regiment shot dead a total of 10 people in Ballymurphy over three days following the introduction of internment.

The victims included mother-of-eight Joan Connolly and Catholic priest Fr Hugh Mullan.

Another man died of a heart attack following an alleged violent confrontation with soldiers.

In 2011, Attorney General John Larkin ordered a new inquest into the Ballymurphy shootings.

The conflicting medical evidence came about because there was one entry and one exit wound on Mr Murphy's leg - suggesting he was shot once.

However, an investigation by the now defunct PSNI Historical Enquiries Team found evidence from a surgeon who treated Mr Murphy at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

The surgeon said he had found a bullet lodged in Mr Murphy's body - suggesting he had been shot twice.

But a pathologist who carried out the subsequent post mortem did not mention a bullet.

Mr Murphy's daughter Janet Donnelly, who was eight when her father was killed, said the discovery shows her father has been vindicated.

She said the second bullet, a live round, was discovered under her father's pubic bone and he had been shot at close range through the entry wound of the first bullet.

"This started when my Daddy was lying in a hospital bed and told my Mummy he'd been shot again when he was in the Henry Taggart Memorial Hall," she said.

"Now he's been proved right."

Ms Donnelly said she feels "absolutely delighted" that the bullet has finally been discovered.

"I have to emphasise that this wouldn't have happened if it hadn't have been for the HET report," she said.

"They found these two depositions from two different doctors."

Ballymurphy families spokesman John Teggart, whose father Danny was one of the 10 shot dead, said the discovery would add weight to calls for an independent inquiry into the killings.

"It just proves we need a proper investigation into Ballymurphy. We need an independent panel to look at exactly what happened," he said.

"The Dáil has called for an independent review. The only block is the British government."

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