Preliminary hearing’s relating to the killing of two young men in Derry in 1972 are due to be heard at court in Belfast later this month.
15-year-old Manus Deery was shot dead by the British Army in the Bogside May, 1972 whilst 19-year-old Seamus Bradley was killed during Operation Motorman in Creggan in July of that year.
Richard Campbell, solicitor for both the Bradley and Deery families says that both hearings will take place at Laganside Court on January 19 when the process of establishing fresh inquests into ‘Troubles’ related deaths will begin.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan has assumed the role of President of the Coroner’s Court and has appointed Lord Justice Weir to oversee 54 outstanding legacy cases. Justice Weir will have responsibility of scrutinising each case in order to assess their readiness to proceed. Just nine legacy cases have been finalised in the last decade and of the 54 outstanding cases, 22 are now in excess of 40-years-old. These include the cases of Manus Deery and Seamus Bradley.
“This will begin to determine which cases are deemed to be ready to proceed and then the process of prioritising them will begin. It will also then be decided for example of they are to heard in chronlogical order and so on,” said Richard Campbell.
Daniel Bradley, brother of Seamus Bradley said: “What I am hoping will happen is that the Ministry of Defence will now hand over all relevant evidence so this can go ahead. I want assurances too that these cases will have juries and will not be determined by a judge. My brother’s case is too serious to go ahead without having a jury in place.”
Helen Deery, sister of Manus Deery had a date set for a new inquest in April last year. However, when it became apparent there was an attempt to make it a non-jury hearing she refused to let it go ahead.
Since then the process has been stalled through the lack of availability of a coroner. Now, she finds herself in the position of having to repeat the process on January 19.
“I have not changed my position on this. I want a normal inquest, with a jury in place she said and the overturning of the open verdict given at the original inquest in 1973. All the witnesses in the case had been summonsed and were ready to go.
“I have been given no explanation from the authorities as to why I have to attend another preliminary hearing when we already had Derry Courthouse booked between April 13-22 last year,” she said.