Northern Ireland news

British soldier tells Ballymurphy inquest it was 'possible' he killed somebody

John Teggart with family members and supporters outside Laganside Court yesterday. Picture by Hugh Russell

A FORMER British soldier has told the Ballymurphy inquest that it was possible he killed somebody when firing at an area of waste ground close to where he was positioned.

Witness M97, who having been granted anonymity gave evidence from behind a screen, said he returned fire towards the area known as the Manse after seeing muzzle flashes of weapons fired in his direction.

M97 was lance corporal in B Company 2 Para based in the Henry Taggart Hall on the Springfield Road in August 1971 when 10 people were shot dead.

He said could not believe his eyes when he spotted IRA gunmen approaching his position and spoke of "an extremely frightening experience" when his base came under what he terms "heavy and sustained fire".

M97 believes there were many more gunmen than he had observed, firing from several different directions.

He said he does not recall giving a statement to the military police after the incident but believes he would have had to account for the rounds he fired.

M97 was asked why no other military witness or any of the records mention him seeing the group of armed men.

A barrister for the Teggart and Phillips families said to M97: "You could have killed someone couldn't you?"

"Possibly" he replied.

"You really don't know, do you?" asked the barrister. "No." the former soldier replied.

The four people killed that day were Joan Connolly (44), Noel Phillips (19), Joseph Murphy (41) and Daniel Teggart (44).

M97 he said he helped carry casualties into the hall after other soldiers had gone out and retrieved them from the area.

He remembered later seeing the body of Joan Connolly and thought she looked like a woman he had seen among the rioters earlier in the day.

He said he had never seen anyone who had been shot before.

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