Bullet was sole cause of Deery death
The inquest into the killing of a 15-year-old boy in Derry 44 years ago has heard that the sole cause of his death was from injuries he sustained from wounds caused by a single shot fired by a British soldier.
Senior counsel for Coroners Service, Gerry McAlinden told the fresh inquest into the killing of Manus Deery that two fragments of a bullet entered the teenager’s head.
One fragment of the fatal round lacerated the victim’s brain and caused his death.
Toxicology tests during the post mortem indicated that no alcohol was present in Manus Deery’s bloodstream.
In keeping with the first day of the inquest the Coroner, Lord Justice Adrian Colton directed that all material witnesses to the shooting incident leave the court whilst each gave their testimony.
Witness Myles O’Hagan told the court that he had never been approached by any party to give a statement until he spoke to representatives of the Pat Finucane Centre in 2001.
He told the court that at no stage in his view was anyone in the vicinity, including Manus Deery, carrying a weapon.
“I would have seen them,” he said.
“It was just a run-of-the-mill night.
“I heard the crack of an army rifle. I had heard plenty of them before.
“When I look back now I realise Manus was in the death throes, his body was shaking. I guessed straight away where the shot came from.
“I made my way home and probably said nothing to my mother and father at that time.”
Mr O’Hagan said the fatal bullet struck halfway down the tunnel area in which the group of teenagers were standing.
The area he said lit up in a flash of light when the round struck.
The witness also said that he didn’t recall anything leading up to the shooting but only the shooting itself.
He also recollected that in his opinion that no-one in the vicinity pointed anything or gestured towards the Army observation post on the city’s Walls.
“We all knew growing up during the Troubles that to do that would have been a bit stupid,” he said.
Mr O’Hagan also said that he cannot recall any Official or Provisional IRA checkpoints or roadblocks in operation at the time of Manus Deery’s killing.
“Nobody in the company that was carrying a stick or anything resembling a weapon,” he said.
“None of us there saw a gunman. The only thing anyone in the company that night will confirm is that Manus Deery was innocent.”