Soldier ‘with serious convictions’ in unit?

Gransha Park.
Gransha Park.

A British soldier with serious offences on his record may have been part of an army unit which shot dead two IRA men in Derry 30 years ago, a coroner’s court has heard.

Daniel Doherty (23) and William Fleming (19) were killed in the grounds of Gransha Hospital on the outskirts of the city in December 1984.

It’s alleged the men were planning to carry out an attack on an off-duty member of the UDR when soldiers ambushed them, firing almost 60 shots.

The SAS and the Army’s 14th Intelligence Company were believed to have been involved in the operation.

At a preliminary inquiry this week, barrister Karen Quinlivan QC argued against protecting the identity of the Army captain because his name was already well known.

She said: “If we are right, his name is in the public domain.”

Ms Quinlivan asked the court to look into claims that the officer also had serious convictions on his record for crimes committed outside Northern Ireland.

“There are suggestions this captain has serious convictions on his record and that they took place in Sweden. We would invite the court to explore.”

The hearing was told three other soldiers had declined to be interviewed by the investigating officer appointed to the case and had refused to make further statements for the inquest. Four others have yet to give attitude, the court heard.

Concerns were also raised that the process employed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to protect the identities of former personnel had rendered some information useless.

Ms Quinlivan said inconsistencies in the ciphering system meant legal teams were unable to ascertain if soldiers had been involved in other incidents in which lethal force was deployed.

She added: “It’s clear that the information provided to us is useless without the other ciphers.”

Meanwhile, a barrister acting for the MoD refuted claims that former soldiers had been told not to co-operate with the inquest. Kevin Rooney said: “There is no evidence of that whatsoever.”

Coroner Jim Kitson said the issue wasn’t one for his court.

Another preliminary hearing is scheduled for December.