Family of teen shot dead by British Army challenge no prosecution decision

Daniel Hegarty.
Daniel Hegarty.

The family of a Derry teenager shot dead by the British Army more than 40 years ago is to challenge a decision not to prosecute the soldier who fired the fatal shot.

Daniel Hegarty (15) was gunned down in Creggan in July 1972 during ‘Operation Motorman’ - the British Army’s plan to retake “no-go areas” in the city.

Daniel Hegarty's three sisters hold a framed photo of the 15 year-old near the spot where he was killed. From left, Philomena Conaghan, Kathleen Hegarty and Margaret Brady.

Daniel Hegarty's three sisters hold a framed photo of the 15 year-old near the spot where he was killed. From left, Philomena Conaghan, Kathleen Hegarty and Margaret Brady.

Last year, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) confirmed that, following a review of evidence, a decision was taken not to prosecute the soldier, known only as ‘Soldier B’, in relation to the teenager’s death.

It was in the early hours of July 31, 1972, that Daniel Hegarty was shot and killed by a member of an Army patrol on duty in the Creggan area of Derry as ‘Operation Motorman’ began.

Daniel, who was working as a labourer when he died, was shot twice in the head by a soldier near his home in Swilly Gardens.

His 16-year-old cousin, Christopher, who was shot in the head by the same soldier, survived.

In 2009, a new inquest was ordered into Daniel’s death and this process found that the 15-year-old posed no threat when he was shot by ‘Soldier B’.

His sister, Margaret Brady, insists she has been left with ‘no choice’ but to take these latest legal proceedings.

“This is not a witch-hunt, it is not about hatred or revenge,” she said.

Mrs Brady was speaking after the start of judicial review proceedings challenging the PPS decision.

The review was heard in front of Mr. Justice Weatherup who indicated he would like a full hearing to take place before the end of June.

Margaret Brady insists she will not accept the PPS decision.

“If the PPS believe ‘Soldier B’ was acting in self defence, then, surely, it has a duty to go into court and let a jury determine that. It cannot simply state there will be no prosecution because it has decided there won’t. It should leave that up to the courts.”

Mrs Brady added: “Not only did that soldier take away my brother from me but the whole legal system seems to be bending over backwards to protect him. When we received news of the new inquest, my hopes were raised that we would get some sort of justice but, since then, it has been knock back after knock back.”

Solicitor to the Hegarty family, Mr. Des Doherty, speaking after the opening of the case, said: “It is a matter of regret that the family of Daniel Hegarty were forced to take these judicial review proceedings but they have been left with no choice.”