Northern Ireland news

Inquest hears of final moments of teenager shot in 1975

Patrick Crawford (15) was killed in August 1975

An inquest has heard of the final moments of a teenager who was shot dead in the grounds of a Belfast hospital almost half a century ago.

Patrick Crawford, 15, was struck while walking through the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital on August 10 1975.

An earlier inquest into his death in December 1979 recorded an open verdict.

But in 2015 Northern Ireland’s former attorney general, John Larkin, granted a fresh inquest into Patrick’s death after representations from his family.

Opening the fresh inquest, coroner Judge Philip Gilpin said the hearing would hear preliminary evidence before adjourning to hear evidence from pathology and ballistic experts at a later date.

A counsel for the coroner told the hearing that the shooting had occurred at a time of unrest due to the anniversary of the introduction of internment without trial in Northern Ireland.

He said: “On Sunday August 10, 1975, at around 9:40pm, Patrick Crawford was shot and killed as he walked up Maternity Road in the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital.

“People came to his aid, including nurses, at least one of whom had heard the shot.

“He was carried into accident and emergency as it was apparent that he was seriously injured and died shortly afterwards from his injuries.”

The lawyer continued: “At the time he appears to have been in the company of two women, a Mrs Kathleen Faloon and a Mrs Annie Miskimmon who were walking together through the hospital grounds on their way to the Falls Road.

“August 10 marked the anniversary of the introduction of internment by the Government of Northern Ireland in 1971.

“There was considerable tension in the city and in the immediate locality where a demonstration had earlier taken place against the policy which persisted at that time.

“This had resulted in disorder, the extent of which will be examined in this inquest.”

A deposition from Mrs Faloon from October 17, 1978, was then read to the court.

It stated: “As we were going through the gates I saw a young boy standing on the footpath. I shouted at him and he didn’t answer.

“We walked over to him and spoke to him. He then came with us.

“I heard a shot and the young man said ‘I’m shot’ and he fell to the ground.

“I bent over him and he said ‘I am dying’. He opened his coat and I could see blood on his shirt. The blood then started to pour out of his mouth.

“I said an Act of Contrition in his ear. He kept looking at me all the time. When I had finished he went all calm and relaxed and I realised that he was dead.”

An earlier preliminary hearing had heard the first battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers were operating in the area at the time of the shooting according to Army logs.

A number of civilian witnesses, including a nurse who treated the teenager at the scene, are expected to be called to give evidence, as well as former police officers and soldiers.

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