Northern Ireland news

Bloody Sunday wounded reject suggestions Soldier F should not go to prison if convicted

The family of Patsy O'Donnell who was shot and wounded on Bloody Sunday have rejected suggestions that Soldier F should not go to prison if he is convicted of his attempted murder. Mr O'Donnell died in 2006 at the age of 74. Picture from O'Donnell family
Seamus McKinney

THREE men wounded on Bloody Sunday along with the family of a fourth have rejected suggestions that 'Soldier F' should not go to prison if he is convicted of murder or attempted murder.

The former paratrooper is expected to appear before Derry Magistrates Court next month charged with the murders of William McKinney and Jim Wray and the attempted murders of Joe Friel, Joe Mahon, Michael Quinn and Patsy O'Donnell.

Mr O'Donnell died in 2006.

The relatives were responding to comments earlier this week by Kate Nash, whose brother William (19) was shot dead on Bloody Sunday and whose father Alex was shot and wounded.

Ms Nash claimed in the News Letter newspaper that the majority of Bloody Sunday families did not want to see Soldier F jailed.

Her reported comments sparked an angry response from Michael McKinney, brother of victim William. He said he wanted justice to run its course and anything else meant his brother would be treated differently from other victims.

In a statement released through a solicitor in the names of the McKinney and O'Donnell families as well as Mr Friel, Mr Mahon and Mr Quinn, they claimed Ms Nash did not speak for the majority of Bloody Sunday families.

“The prosecution of Soldier F for murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday is the realisation of the third and final limb of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign which was formed in 1992,” the group said.

They claimed Ms Nash did not consult with the Bloody Sunday families or those wounded before making her comments on a prosecution which did not directly affect her.

“There is no factual basis for her assertions concerning the views of the majority of families, which have caused outrage. It is also an extraordinary position for Kate to adopt by suggesting that even if Soldier F is convicted of murder he should not be imprisoned. This proposition has no legal basis as the only sentence that a court can pass upon conviction for murder is one of life imprisonment.

“We would strongly urge her to be more circumspect when commenting unhelpfully about ongoing criminal proceedings and to be more respectful towards the families and to the legal process."

In response to the statement, Ms Nash said: "Thanks very much for the advice."

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