Northern Ireland news

Ballymurphy inquest: Paratrooper recalls finding the body of grandmother Joan Connolly

Ballymurphy families attend the inquest in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell.

A FORMER paratrooper told the Ballymurphy inquest yesterday of finding the body of grandmother Joan Connolly and said it was "one of the most horrific" things he had seen.

The soldier, known as M155, was giving evidence at the inquest by videolink.

The 44-year-old mother-of-eight was among four people who were shot dead on waste ground opposite the Henry Taggart army base in west Belfast on 8 August 1971.

The other victims were Noel Phillips, Joseph Murphy and Daniel Teggart.

The soldier told the inquest he remembered ng cover behind an armoured vehicle outside the army base when the shooting started.

He told the court he later volunteered to help recover casualties from the waste ground.

M155 said Mrs Connolly was lying face down with a large hole in her thigh, but when he turned her over he saw she had serious injuries to her face.

He decided to leave Mrs Connolly where she was because it was clear she was already dead.

He then told the inquest of helping casualties into the hall.

"Seeing someone in that state immediately put us into a humanitarian mode", he said.

M155 said he had not fired his own weapon that day, and did not see any of the casualties being abused by soldiers while in the hall.

M155 told the court he was certain that he had made a statement to the PSNI's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) but had never seen a copy of it.

Although HET records show that he was contacted, the court heard that there is no record of an interview with him.

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