Soldier who fired shot which killed Kathleen Thompson gives evidence in Derry

Bishop Street courthouse.
Bishop Street courthouse.

A former British soldier has told an inquest into the death of a 47-years-old mother of six in Derry, in 1971, that he fired two shots after a shot had been fired in his direction from a low velocity weapon.

The soldier who fired the shot which killed Kathleen Thompson was giving evidence from behind a screen and was known as ‘Soldier D.’

He said his platoon was tasked to cover another platoon which was attempting to carry out an arrest operation in the Creggan area.

In a statement ‘Soldier D’ said as his platoon retreated he heard the crack of a low velocity round going past his head.

The soldier said he saw ‘flickering lights’ behind a fence and movement from‘ ‘a very dark part of the garden’ of Mrs. Thompson’s house.

He said: “Believing I was under fire I fired two shots in quick succession.”

The soldier said not long after returning to camp he was told to report to Battalion Headquarters and wait to be interviewed and he believed that was when he found out about Mrs. Thompson’s death.

The soldier said this was the only occasion during a military career spanning more than 20 years that he had discharged his weapon on duty.

Earlier the inquest had heard statements from various civilians including the statements of the dead woman’s husband and a doctor who pronounced her dead.

Mr. Patrick Thompson’s statement recalled how he was looking for his wife and saw her lying in the garden.

The doctor, Dr. Domhnall MacDermott, in his statement, said he found what he believed to be an entrance wound on Mrs. Thompson’s shoulder but she was dead when he attended to her.

The inquest at Derry Courthouse continues.