Northern Ireland news

Soldier who shot Daniel Hegarty dead ‘will not be prosecuted'

 Neither Daniel nor his cousin Christopher posed a threat to soliders, the PPS Assistant Director of Central Casework Michael Agnew said
Michael McHugh, Press Association

A BRITISH soldier who shot and killed a 15-year-old boy in Derry in 1972 will not be prosecuted, the PPS have said. 

Daniel Hegarty (15) was shot and killed by a member of an army patrol on duty in the Creggan area of Derry in the early hours of July 31, 1972.

His cousin, Christopher Hegarty (16), was injured by the same solider.

The teenagers were shot at the commencement of Operation Motorman, an operation by the British army intended to retake 'no-go areas' in Derry and Belfast.

The PPS said that following a review of the available evidence, the soldier (Soldier B) will not face prosecution. 

Explaining the outcome of the review, Assistant Director of Central Casework Michael Agnew said the PPS "gave careful consideration to all of the available evidence and information, including the findings of the jury at the inquest."

“We have received further expert evidence, both from the expert who had been instructed by the Coroner and also a second independent expert. The conclusions of both experts are such that they are not able to state that the ballistics evidence is inconsistent with the account provided by Soldier B of the circumstances in which he fired.

"Our assessment remains that there is no reasonable prospect of proving to the criminal standard that Soldier B did not act in self-defence having formed a mistaken but honest belief that he was under imminent attack. In these circumstances there is no reasonable prospect of a conviction and the Test for Prosecution is not met.”

Decisions not to prosecute were previously taken in 1973 and again in 2008 following a review of the case by the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team. The file was subsequently referred back to the Director of Public Prosecutions by the Coroner following the conclusion of an inquest in December 2011.

Mr Agnew added that neither Daniel or Christopher Hegarty posed a threat to soliders and there was "no objective justification for the shots fired by Soldier B that morning."

"However, in a criminal trial the court will be required to assess the conduct of Soldier B in the context of the circumstances as he believed, or may have believed, them to be.”

Mr Agnew confirmed that arrangements had been made to keep the family informed of progress in relation to the case and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, has met with them to explain the outcome of the review.

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