Coroner names British soldier who killed father-of-six as Allan McVitie


A coroner has named a British soldier who shot dead a father of six outside a Belfast police station after mistaking a van backfiring for a gun attack.

Now deceased sergeant Allan McVitie from the Parachute Regiment fired two shots that killed van driver Henry Thornton in 1971.

Coroner Brian Sherrard had already ruled the paratrooper's actions were not necessary, reasonable or proportionate.

On Wednesday he lifted an anonymity order that had prevented Mr McVitie's identity being revealed to Belfast Coroner's Court.

Mr Thornton, 29, died almost instantly when the soldier shot him through the rear of his Austin works van close to Springfield Road police station in west Belfast in August 1971.

Mr Thornton, from Silverbridge, Co Armagh, and his colleague Arthur Murphy were driving to work early in the morning when the incident unfolded outside a police station that was repeatedly attacked during the Troubles.