The findings of the inquest into Daniel Hegarty’s killing by the British Army prove his shooting was “unjustified and unjustifiable”, his sister has said.
A tearful Margaret Brady speaking after the verdict was delivered at Derry court house on Friday night, said she was “very happy” that her brother was cleared of any wrong doing, adding that his killing was “unjustified and unjustifiable”.
Surrounded by family and friends, Mrs Brady said: “We’re very happy with the outcome but we didn’t come here for revenge, we came for truth and justice.”
Mrs Brady, who during her evidence to the inquest described her brother as a big-hearted joker who was always carrying on, told the ‘SUNDAY’ he’d never be forgotten. “We’ll always remember our brother, we’ll remember his birthday and we’ll remember him at Christmas.” She told the inquest on Monday that her mother continued to set a place for him at the table and call him for dinner for months after his death.
Following the verdict, she said other familes in Derry now deserve the justice afforded to Daniel.
“Not only did our family suffer at the hands of the state, young Seamus Bradley died that morning, there’s also Kathleen Thompson, John Thomas Friel and Annette McGavigan’s family - they need the truth too, they need justice,” she said.
The Hegarty family’s solicitor Des Doherty said the verdict came as no surprise. “It was the right result. The killing of Daniel Hegarty was unjustified and clearly is now unjustifiable.
“This is a case that has been ignored for many years by the authorities and now it has finally been properly dealt with in a proper legal setting.”
He said the verdict showed the soldier who pulled the trigger to be “nothing but an out and out liar”. “He lied about the event in respect of Daniel’s killing and he lied in terms of his evidence in 1972 and his evidence before the inquest was not believed at all in any shape or form by the jury.”
He said the family had “always” wanted to see the man identified only to the inquest as solider B prosecuted for killing Daniel.
And Mr Doherty said there “is no reason he shouldn’t be” in view of what has happened.
“In respect of soldier B it is now down to the proper authorities to deal with in the form of the public prosecution service and that will depend on what view they take at what has happened here at the inquest.
“Mr Leckey will carefully consider the verdict of the jury and submissions from the various legal teams and decide on his own course of action.” Mr Doherty added.
Mr Leckey is expected to decide before Christmas on whether the findings of the jury point towards a criminal offence taking place and on whether to refer the matter to the PPS.
In 2007, the British government apologised to the Hegarty family after describing Daniel as a terrorist.
A Ministry of Defence document, assessing the Army’s role in Northern Ireland, also incorrectly claimed the 15-year-old was armed.