A fresh inquest into the 1978 death of a man who is alleged to be the first 'shoot-to-kill' victim of the Troubles is expected to open in Derry on Friday.
Leading human rights barrister Michael Mansfield KC will represent the family of father-of-six Patrick Duffy, who was shot dead by two undercover British soldiers at Maureen Avenue in Derry in November 1978. Mr Duffy, who was unarmed at the time, was shot 14 times at an IRA arms dump while his daughter and granddaughter sat in a car outside.
Former bishop of Derry Edward Daly later described Mr Duffy as a victim of a shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland.
The opening of the case in a preliminary inquiry on Friday is likely to ensure that Mr Duffy’s inquest can proceed, regardless of British government efforts to end all Troubles-related legal actions through its Legacy Bill.
In 2019, then Attorney General, John Larkin KC directed that a new inquest be held. There were a number of delays in opening proceedings, leading to fears that the new inquest would not open before the Legacy Bill deadline. However, earlier this year, coroner, Judge Fiona Bagnall fixed the opening of the case for Friday at Derry courthouse.
In confirming the new inquest, Mr Larkin said that at the core of the case was the “death by shooting of an unarmed man” by two soldiers who did not give evidence at the original inquest in 1980.
Mr Larkin said: “There does not, on the materials available to me, appear to be any objective justification for shooting Mr Duffy.”
Solicitor for the Duffy family, Patricia Coyle said a number of uncontested statements will be heard at Friday’s hearing. These will include “pen pictures” from Mr Duffy’s daughters, Martina and Bridin and son, Raymond. Statements from two of his sisters will also be submitted.
Judge Bagnall is also expected accept statements from former RUC officers, the now deceased Northern Ireland state pathologist, Dr John Press as well as other technical statements.