Kathleen Thompson inquest hears from soldier who fired shots

Kathleen Thompson (47) who was shot dead by the British Army in Derry in 1971

A FORMER British soldier has told an inquest into the death of a mother-of-six in Derry in 1971 that he would be "appalled" if he had fired the shot that had killed the woman.

Kathleen Thompson (47) was shot dead in the garden of her Creggan home in 1971 during a British Army raid on the estate.

The inquest is being heard at Derry courthouse. When pressed by counsel for the Coroner for his reaction if he had shot Mrs Thompson the soldier became emotional and agreed he would "regret it".

Known as Soldier D and giving evidence from behind a screen, he said he fired two shots after a shot was fired in his direction from a low velocity weapon.

In a statement he said as his platoon retreated from the area he heard the crack of a low velocity round going past his head.

The soldier said he saw "flickering lights" behind a fence and movement from a "very dark part" of Mrs Thompson’s house and he fired two shots.

He asked if the figure he fired at could have been crouching, maybe banging a binlid, he agreed that it was a possibility.

Gerry McAlinden for the Coroner asked: “Do you accept at this stage it is likely your bullet that hit Mrs. Thompson?”

The soldier replied: “I have to accept that it was."

The soldier said he was told to report to Battalion Headquarters and wait to be interviewed and he believed that was when he found out about Mrs Thompson’s death.

The soldier said this was the only occasion during a military career spanning more than 20 years that he had discharged his weapon on duty.

Earlier the inquest heard statements from Mrs Thompson's husband and a doctor who pronounced her dead.

Patrick Thompson’s statement recalled how he was looking for his wife when he saw her lying in the garden.

Dr Domhnall MacDermott, in his statement, said he found what he believed to be a bullet wound on Mrs Thompson’s shoulder but said she was dead when he arrived at the scene.

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