Northern Ireland

Death of Ballymurphy Massacre survivor Terry Laverty a 'sad loss'

Terry Laverty is comforted by his sisters Carmel and Rita outside Laganside Court in 2015. Pic by Mal McCann.
Terry Laverty is comforted by his sisters Carmel and Rita outside Laganside Court in 2015. Pic by Mal McCann.

The death of a man who survived the Ballymurphy Massacre and who was wrongly convicted of rioting has been described as a "sad loss".

Tributes were last night paid to Terry Laverty who died on Saturday aged in his 60s.

His brother John (20) was shot dead by the British Parachute Regiment more than 50 years ago.

A priest and a mother-of-eight were among civilians gunned down by British soldiers in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast over a three-day period in August 1971.

Ten people were shot dead while Paddy McCarthy, the eleventh victim, died following a heart attack after allegedly being put through the ordeal of a mock execution by British troops.

In May last year an inquest found that all the victims "were entirely innocent of any wrongdoings on the day in question".

In 2015 Terry Laverty's conviction for rioting during the Ballymurphy Massacre was quashed after his appeal went unopposed by the Public Prosecution Service.

After the massacre Mr Laverty had been found guilty of riotous behaviour and sentenced to six months in prison based only on the evidence of a British soldier.

His case was later referred back to Belfast County Court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates miscarriages of justice.

The decision was taken after it emerged that the evidence supporting the conviction had been retracted.

His daughter Karen paid tribute to her father in a message posted on social media.

"He died as he lived, with love, with strength, with family and of course with that famous sense of humour," she wrote.

"Our lives will never be as bright, but by God, the craic in heaven will be mighty."

Campaigner John Teggart, whose father Daniel was among the victims, said Mr Laverty a founding member of the Ballymurphy Massacre Committee and "a big figure in the campaign".

"It's a sad loss not just for the Laverty family but all the Ballymurphy committee as well," he said.

Relatives for Justice last night said on Twitter that it was "heartbroken" to learn of Mr Laverty's death.

"Terry was one of the survivors of the Ballymurphy Massacre, brutalised and tortured, while his brother John was being killed," it said.

"Our thoughts and love are with his surviving family today."

After his conviction was quashed almost seven years ago Mr Laverty spoke about the shooting of his brother.

"As he lay in the street bleeding to death I was being arrested, just yards away," he said.

"It was two days before I knew he was dead and almost two days before my parents knew that I was not."