Northern Ireland news

Family of killed Long Kesh escapee to take legal action

Hugh Gerard Coney was shot dead while trying to escape from Long Kesh internment camp in 1974
Connla Young

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The brother of a Co Tyrone man shot dead while trying to escape from Long Kesh internment camp almost 45 years ago has launched legal action against the PSNI and Ministry of Defence.

Hugh Gerard Coney (24) was shot in the back by a British soldier as he and other internees tried to escape in November 1974.

The escape attempt came just weeks after internees set fire to the jail, causing extensive damage.

His name was later added to the republican roll of honour.

From Annaghmore, near Coalisland, Mr Coney was detained without charge in June 1973.

An inquest held in 1975 delivered an open verdict and his family had campaigned to have the case re-examined.

In 2016 Attorney General John Larkin ordered a new inquest into his death.

Mr Coney was among hundreds of nationalists held without charge at a former RAF base near Lisburn from 1971 to 1975.

A report by the Historical Enquiries Team said British soldiers involved in the shooting gave differing accounts of what happened.

It also revealed that an RUC officer had recommended that the soldier who fired the fatal shot should be charged with murder but he was not supported by his supervisors.

The director of public prosecutions later concluded that the soldier, whose identity is known, should not be prosecuted.

The dead man's brother Jim has now launched legal action against the chief constable George Hamilton and MoD.

Eoin Murphy of Ó Muirigh Solicitors said “fresh witness evidence which has been provided, challenges the narrative advanced by the authorities for the past 44 years that there was a necessity to fire a fatal shot, or a shot at all”.

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