Northern Ireland

Patrick Crawford: New inquest to be held into death of 15-year-old shot dead in 1975

Patrick Crawford (15) was killed in August 1975
Patrick Crawford (15) was killed in August 1975

A FRESH inquest into the death of a 15-year-old boy shot dead in the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast 47 years ago is to begin today.

Patrick Crawford was killed by a single shot to the chest while walking through the grounds of the hospital in August 1975.

His is one of several Troubles-related inquests set for hearing by Lady Chief Justice Siobhan Keegan last year.

The teenager's family believe he was shot dead by the British army.

His mother Martha Crawford had been shot dead the previous year. Patrick was one of 10 children being raised by their father Patrick Crawford senior.

The original inquest in 1979 recorded an open verdict.

Two women who were with the teenager at the time told the inquest he was unarmed and had asked to accompany them from the Grosvenor Road to the Falls Road because he was afraid.

Former Attorney General John Larkin directed a fresh inquest into Patrick's death in September 2015.

Coroner Judge Philip Gilpin will hear some preliminary evidence on Monday before adjourning the inquest to a later date to hear other evidence, including from pathology and ballistic experts.

Patricia Coyle, the solicitor who is representing Patrick's family, said the fresh inquest had come about thanks to a campaign by the teenager's family.

"Our clients welcome the decision by the coroner to open the inquest into the death of their brother Patrick," she said.

"Their own extraordinary efforts have brought them thus far and they do not want the essential court scrutiny of the fatal shooting of their 15-year-old brother to be closed down or interfered with by the current government legacy proposals.

"They look forward to an objective judicial examination of the evidence after full and proper disclosure of all relevant materials from the Ministry of Defence."

The British government has proposed a blanket Troubles amnesty which would see an end to all prosecutions, legacy inquests and civil actions related to the conflict.

However, the legislation for an amnesty - which is opposed by victims' groups and politicians - has still not been put before Westminster.