Fresh ballistic tests in relation to the killing of a 19-year-old man in Derry by the British Army over 40 years ago were carried out this week.
IRA member Seamus Bradley was shot in highly disputed circumstances in the early hours of July 31, 1972 during Operation Motorman. Another teenager, 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty was also shot dead also by a member of the Scots Guard Regiment.
The Bradley family are seeking a fresh inquest into the killing after a Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report in 2012 concluded that he had been ‘lawfully killed’. The British Army have always contended that during a move to secure waste ground during ‘Motorman’ they saw Seamus Bradley move towards some trees close to St Mary’s Church in Creggan Estate. They also claimed he was armed with a sub-machine gun and then climbed one of trees.
The soldier responsible for wounding the teenager said he then fired four times and Seamus Bradley fell back to the ground. The British Army also claim that it was an hour later before they reached the victim and he was then placed in a Saracen tank and taken to St Peter’s school, in use as an army post, where he was pronounced dead. Searches of the area where the victim was hit however produced no weapon.
Seamus Bradley’s next of kin, Danny Bradley however disputes the location and circumstances surrounding the shooting. In evidence given to the HET he said he was with his brother on the morning in question and that a group of 15 youth, some wearing masks, had gone to Creggan shops where a nail bomb was thrown.
When the British Army appeared Danny Bradley said they felt “trapped” and that his brother ran to draw the military’s attention from the rest of the group. He says Seamus was hit twice by Army bullets and then driven away immediately.
Within the last year as part of evidence gathering for the fresh inquest into the killing of Seamus Bradley the Coroner’s Service in Northern Ireland tasked a ballistics expert to examine the district in which the shooting took place.
However, solicitor for the Bradley family, Richard Campbell of the Quigley, Grant and Kyle legal firm explained the reasons behind why they have commissioned their own expert ballistics report.
Mr Campbell told the ‘Journal’: We have done this for a number of reasons. The Coroner’s Service ballistics expert never actually came to the location. He never spoke to any witnesses. All they did was read statements and take everything at face value.
“Our ballistics expert is here to compile a fresh report and is here on the ground and is actually taking trajectories measurements and angles. He is doing everything you would expect a ballistics expert to do.
“We are ecstatic about this. It is real progress for the case. What we hope is that this report will show is that the soldier’s word should not be taken at face value. This because there is another hypothesis involved here, mainly one given by Seamus Bradley’s next of kin Daniel Bradley, in that what he says could have happened. It is not as simple as the soldier saying that he saw someone up a tree and shot him. We are saying no-something else could well have happened here.”