An inquest into the 1971 British Army killing of Derry mother-of-six Kathleen Thompson, due to start tomorrow in Derry, has been postponed until the New Year.
At an emergency preliminary hearing this morning in Belfast, Coroner Patrick McGurgan was advised that a number of expert reports, including an independent pathology report and a ballistics report, were not ready in time for the inquest to begin on Friday morning.
It’s understood the British Ministry of Defence has also failed to provide a full explanation as to why certain army logs are missing.
Coroner McGurgan stated that the inquest would be pushed back until March 2018 “at the latest.”
Mrs Thompson was shot dead in the back garden of her home at Rathlin Gardens in Creggan, Derry, on November 6, 1971, by a soldier from the Royal Green Jackets.
The soldier who fired the fatal shot, known only as “Soldier D”, was due to give evidence to the new inquest from behind a screen next Tuesday.
At today’s hearing, Counsel for the Coroner acknowledged the shortcomings of past investigations (in conflict related cases) and stated that they were taking this course of action in delaying the inquest to “ensure a full, comprehensive and knowledgeable investigation.”
Fiona Doherty QC, representing the Thompson family, told the court: “The family have mentally and emotionally prepared for the inquest. They now have to start again. It is with extreme sadness and disappointment that they find out the inquest will not now go ahead as planned, literally with a day to spare.”
A further preliminary hearing is due to take place on December 13.