Northern Ireland

Family mark anniversary of Francis Bradley killing on eve of inquest resumption

Inquest into 1986 killing to resume on Monday

A meteorological expert is set to be among the witnesses when an inquest into the killing of the man in disputed circumstances in Co Derry almost 40 years ago resumes
Francis Bradley. (PA/PA)

The family of a Co Derry man killed by the SAS have said they hope a resumed inquest will bring them “peace” as they marked the 38th anniversary of his death.

Francis Bradley (20) was shot dead at an arms dump in Toome on February 18, 1986 during a British army ambush.

His name was later added to an IRA roll of honour.

An inquest into his death opened last April before being adjourned.

The fresh inquest was ordered by former Attorney General John Larkin in 2010. A previous inquest was held in 1987 and heard how the shots that killed Mr Bradley were fired by a former soldier, known as ‘Soldier C’.

The new inquest is due to resume on Monday. During last April’s sitting, the inquest heard how Mr Bradley had told of being threatened by police before he was killed.

Francis Bradley shot dead by the SAS in February 1986
The scene of the shooting of Francis Bradley near Toome in February 1986. PICTURE: PACEMAKER

His family believe he was the victim of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. They had expressed concern that disclosure delays could ‘derail’ the new coroner’s court hearings ahead of the May 1 deadline for inquests to be at their findings stage under the British government’s controversial Troubles Legacy Act.

Speaking on the anniversary of Mr Bradley’s death, Mark Thompson of the Relatives for Justice victims group said his family have fought a “formidable and dignified public campaign for truth and justice”.

“Francis was a son and brother, who is much loved and much missed,” he said.

“The public picture of Francis, now so familiar from reports on the media, with that beaming smile, full of youth and life, is thankfully what we think of rather than the circumstances of his killing when his life was so cruelly ended 38 years ago.”

Mr Thompson added: “The saddest and cruelest part is aging relatives die waiting. Francis’ father Eddie passed away recently.”

“Resilience has become second nature to the Bradley clan, forged in the four decade long battle it is one made of steel – one instilled in them by their late father and their wonderful mother, Rosemary.”

In a social media post, Francis’ brother Brian said the inquest was due to conclude next month.

“We hope that outcome will finally bring some level of peace. Keeping all other victims and families that are going through similar circumstances in our thoughts and prayers also,” he said.