Northern Ireland news

Bloody Sunday prosecution: Who is Soldier F?

The civil rights march in Derry on Bloody Sunday

SOLDIER F, the only former paratrooper to be prosecuted over the Bloody Sunday shootings, joined the Parachute Regiment in 1966 and left the army in 1988.

The veteran will face charges for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell.

By the time Soldier F gave evidence anonymously to the Saville Inquiry in 2003, he was then in late middle age.

The former soldier admitted firing 13 rounds on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

His assertion that there were "gunmen and bombers killed" was rejected in Lord Saville's report, which was published in 2010.

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The Saville Inquiry stated that there was "no doubt" Soldier F had shot Patrick Doherty (31), a father-of-six who was unarmed.

Lord Saville also found there was "no doubt" Soldier F had shot an unarmed Bernard McGuigan (41) as he went to the aid of Mr Doherty, waving a white handkerchief.

Soldier F admitted at the inquiry he had shot Michael Kelly (17), saying he had only fired at people with bombs or weapons – but Lord Saville concluded Mr Kelly was unarmed.

The inquiry found both Mr McKinney (27) and Mr Wray (22) could have been shot by Soldier F and three other soldiers.

Its report also stated that Soldier F had changed his story over the years.

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Following yesterday's decision to prosecute Soldier F, an official summons to appear before a district judge will be served.

When he receives that letter, proceedings become active. It could be many months, potentially years, before it comes to trial.

Anonymity orders – covering the 17 soldiers and two suspected Official IRA men who were investigated – were imposed during the Bloody Sunday inquiry and remain in place.

Whether Soldier F's identity will continue to be kept from the public will be addressed during the future court proceedings.

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