Ex-British soldier in legal move over Derry teenager’s 1972 murder

Daniel Hegarty.
Daniel Hegarty.

A former British soldier is mounting a legal challenge to being prosecuted for the murder of a teenager in Derry 47 years ago.

Daniel Hegarty was shot twice in the head during a British Army operation in the Creggan area of the city in July 1972.

In April this year, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced that the ex-serviceman, who cannot be identified, is to be charged with the 15-year-old’s murder.

He is also facing prosecution for intentionally wounding Daniel’s cousin, Christopher Hegarty, then aged 17, in the same incident.

Lawyers representing the former soldier are now seeking to judicially review those PPS decisions.

Due to an anonymity order, he can only be referred to as JR84.

Further reporting restrictions are being sought to ensure no details about his identity or whereabouts are disclosed.

At a review hearing at the High Court in Belfast, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan set out steps to ensure media organisations have an opportunity to challenge the current anonymity arrangements.

The case is expected to be mentioned again next month.

Daniel Hegarty was killed during Operation Motorman, when British troops were deployed in Derry at the height of the Troubles to clear so-called no-go areas.

In 2011, an inquest jury unanimously found Daniel posed no risk and had been shot without warning.

Five years later, a decision was taken not to prosecute JR84.

But, in May 2018, the High Court quashed that determination following legal action by the Hegarty family.

The current Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron, then carried out a review of the case before announcing charges are to be brought.

His decision is challenged by JR84 on a number of grounds.