Prosecution possible in Daniel Hegarty case

Daniel Hegarty.

Daniel Hegarty.

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The North’s senior coroner has asked the Public Prosecution Service to consider if a soldier who killed a Derry teenager should be prosecuted.

John Leckey made the request after an inquest jury found that Daniel Hegarty posed no threat when he was shot dead by the soldier in Creggan in 1972.

Northern Ireland Senior Coroner John Lecky in conversation with Des Doherty, Counsel for the Hegarty family at the spot where 15 year-old Daniel Hegarty lost his life in July, 1972. 2110JM01

Northern Ireland Senior Coroner John Lecky in conversation with Des Doherty, Counsel for the Hegarty family at the spot where 15 year-old Daniel Hegarty lost his life in July, 1972. 2110JM01

He said it was the appropriate course of action given the jury’s verdict.

The coroner is legally bound to refer cases to the PPS where it appears an offence has been committed.

Des Doherty, the Hegarty family’s lawyer, said it was a highly significant move.

“It’s unprecedented in my experience, in recent years, especially in respect of cases that have a political element, involving the police, the army and civilians,” he said.

Daniel was shot twice in the head by a soldier close to his home in Creggan during Operation Motorman in July 1972.

His cousin Christopher (16) was shot in the head by the same soldier but survived.

Earlier this month, a jury rejected claims that warnings had been shouted to the two teenagers before they were shot. The jury also found that none of the soldiers present attempted to “approach the injured youths to either search them or provide medical assistance”.

This year’s inquest was the second inquest into Daniel’s death.

The initial inquest was held in 1973 and recorded an open verdict. A second inquest was ordered by the Attorney General in 2009 following an examination by the Historical Enquiries Team.

The report found that the RUC investigation at the time was “hopelessly inadequate and dreadful”.

In 2007, the British government apologised to the Hegarty family after describing Daniel as a terrorist.

Daniel Hegarty’s sister has already said she wants the soldier responsible for his death brought before the courts.

Margaret Brady said she wanted the courts to tell the soldier he had committed a crime.

“Justice has been done, but at the end of the day this man should be prosecuted,” she said at the conclusion of the inquest.

“I’m not out for revenge, I’m just out for the truth,” she added.