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New witnesses come forward in 1971 shooting investigation

Kathleen Thompson's son Erne, pictured with his sisters, Minty and Patricia, welcomed yesterday's witness surgery. Picture by Hugh Russell.

NEW witnesses have come forward to a special “surgery” organised to gather information about the British army killing of Derry woman Kathleen Thompson in 1971.

The event was held by the Coroner's Service in advance of a fresh inquest into the death of the mother-of-six.

Mrs Thompson (43) was shot dead in the back garden of her home in the Creggan on November 6 1971 during a British army raid.

Following an Historical Inquiries Team investigation, Attorney General John Larkin QC ordered a fresh inquest on the grounds that the original investigation was not thorough.

A spokeswoman for the Coroner's Office said that new witnesses had attended yesterday's surgery at the Verbal Arts Centre although “take-up” had been slow.

Mrs Thompson's son, however Erne welcomed yesterday's opportunity to gather new information.

“No-one has accounted for what happened on that night, despite many years of legal battles and challenges. We welcome the inquest and the steps taken by the coroner to reach out to witnesses who may have information that can help hour family understand why our mother was killed,” he said.

Sara Duddy of Derry human rights' group, the Pat Finucane Centre, said the surgery was hugely important as the only non-military evidence presented at the original inquest was that of Mrs Thompson's husband and two other civilian witnesses.

Ms Duddy said: “Anyone who is worried about giving evidence can contact us in confidence and we'll explain the process to them.”

The new inquest into Mrs Thompson's death is due to open on October 23 this year.

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