Shooting of IRA man in 1972 was unjustified, coroner rules

The killing of an IRA man who was shot by a British soldier as he ran across a field in Londonderry in 1972 was unjustified, a coroner has ruled.

The shooting of Seamus Bradley, 19, has long been a matter of dispute.

He was killed by a soldier from the Royal Scots Regiment during Operation Motorman – an Army attempt to gain control of republican areas in Belfast and Derry that had previously been considered no-go zones for the security forces.

The Army claimed the teenager was shot while he was in a tree and suffered additional injuries as he fell.

His family alleged he was killed later, claiming he was taken away in an Army Saracen vehicle and sustained fatal injuries while being interrogated.

Coroner judge Patrick Kinney rejected both those versions of events as he ruled at Belfast Coroner’s Court.

He said he was satisfied Mr Bradley was killed by a soldier who got out of a Saracen vehicle, dropped to one knee and opened fire. He said he had not been able to confirm the identity of the soldier.

He said Mr Bradley was not posing a threat at the time.

“He was running across an open area of ground, he had no weapon and he was clearly visible,” he said.

“The use of force by the solder was entirely disproportionate to any threat that might have been perceived.”

Outside court Mr Bradley’s family welcomed the verdict.

His brother Danny, who has long campaigned for a fresh inquest, said he had faced down a threat from the IRA in Derry to pursue the inquest.

“I am happy with the verdict, very happy with the verdict,” he said.

“As the judge said, it’s 47 years (later) but it’s a lot better than the last (inquest) verdict. I am happy that I went forward, even with threats from the IRA, and got this situation heard today.”

Kate Nash, whose brother William was killed by paratroopers on Bloody Sunday, was among those who attended the hearing.

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