A fresh inquest into one of the most controversial state killings to take place in Derry during the ‘Troubles’ has finally been scheduled to take place this October.
15-year-old Manus Deery was shot dead by a British soldier when he discharged a single shot from the city’s walls into the Bogside on May 19, 1972.
The teenager was only a short distance from his home and had gathered with friends close to the Bogside Inn. Tragically, he had just received his first pay packet that afternoon and was eating a bag of chips when he was struck by the British Army Bullet.
The soldier responsible has since died, but is still only known by the cypher ‘Soldier A’. He consistently claimed in statements that he had spotted a gunman in the area and this was the reason for discharging his weapon.
Relatives of the teenager this week received confirmation that the hearing will begin at Derry Courthouse on October 17 and is expected to last two weeks.
Manus Deery’s sister Helen told the ‘Journal’ yesterday that she is now more optimistic to reaching a conclusion following a four and half decade battle with the British state to get the case back into court.
“I am glad that a date has been set and our intention is to overturn the open verdict of the original inquest in 1973.
“I still distrust them however and I will not believe this is happening until I am sitting in the court room.”
“Shame on them for what they have done.”
An inquest into Manus Deery’s death in 1973 recorded an open verdict meaning that an implication of blame could still be attached to the teenager’s name. For 43 years since 1973, the Deery family has sought a new investigation into the killing and remain determined to expunge any insinuation of guilt from his name. In January this year Belfast Court heard that the case was at a very advanced stage and was near readiness for hearing.
Two final preliminary legal processes are scheduled to take place in early September. These are a Public Immunity Interest hearing and a hearing to establish anonymity for military witnesses. A hearing to establish whether a jury will be appointed to the inquest took place in Belfast last month and a ruling on that is expected in August.
Witness for the Ministry of Defence and for the Deery family have been now been summonsed to attend the new inquest later this year.
However, solicitor for the Deery family, Richard Campbell of Quigley, Grant and Kyle is confident that the inquest will at last proceed.
He told the ‘Journal’: “We are ecstatic that we have now reached this point.
“This looks like this is the final piece of the jigsaw. Remember that this inquest was scheduled to take place last April but was put back because of a ruling that a jury would not be appointed.”
In May this year, almost exactly 44 years to the day that Manus Deery was shot by a British soldier a re-enactment of the circumstances surrounding the shooting took place at the point on Derry Walls where the fatal round was fired.
The conclusion of the report compiled after the re-enactment will form a central part of the evidence that will be heard in October.
At the scene in May, Helen Deery told the ‘Journal’: “I feel kind of sad, but it’s progression because we need this inquest.
“It’s heart breaking. I can see our house from here you know. Manus only went about 100 yards from the house. It’s hard to believe that when you look at Westland Street that a wee boy of 15 went down it and never came back. It’s very emotional when you think about it.”