A reconstruction of the events leading to the killing of a 15-year-old boy by the British Army in May 1972, will take place in Derry next Tuesday.
Teenager Manus Deery was killed after being struck by a bullet fired by a soldier from the city’s walls on the evening in question over four decades ago.
Legal counsel for the Deery family have now confirmed that a reconstruction of the incident will take place on May 17 next, just two days shy of the 44th anniversary of the shooting.
Documents seen by the ‘Journal’ also reveal that one of the soldiers present in the military outpost at the time has been questioned in recent days about his recollection of the events.
The questioning centred on the type of sighting equipment used. The man who fired the fatal round, ‘Soldier A’ is dead but the other man present ‘Soldier B’ whilst under questioning by the Ministry of Defence(MoD) on April 28th past said he could not remember whether or not the rifle used was fitted with a telescopic sight. He also said that he would not have used a free standing scope to look towards the Bogside but rather, would have used binoculars. However he also claimed he could not remember the make or type of binoculars used.
The letter sent to the Coroners Service by the MoD and subsequently to the legal firm representing the Deery family, Quigley, Grant and Kyle reveals that a series of 10 questions were designed to be put to ‘Soldier B’.
Question 1 was ‘Does Soldier B recall whether the rifle that was used in this shooting was fitted with a telescope?’ ‘Soldier Bs’ answer was that he could not remember. The letter from the MoD then states that because the answer to question was negative that questions 2-5 were not put to him. These questions related to further inquiries about the telescopic sight.
Similarly since in Question 6, since ‘Soldier B’ said he did not use a free standing telescope but binoculars but that he could remember the type of binoculars questions 7-10 regarding those pieces of equipment became irrelevant and were not put to him either.
Solicitor for the Deery family, Richard Campbell of Quigley, Grant and Kyle told the ‘Journal’ that because of the lack of response on the nature of the sighting equipment used that the inference could be drawn that ‘Soldier A’ simply took a “pot shot” at a group of Catholic teenagers in the Bogside on May 19, 1972 and as result Manus Deery was killed.However, he also said that the latest negative responses from ‘Soldier B’ would not impact in any way with the reconstruction or a future inquest going ahead.
Richard Campbell also told the ‘Journal’: “Our legal counsel will be present, as will representatives from the Coroners Service and the MoD, as well members of the Deery family. I am looking forward to this. It will be a momentous event because it will establish what the soldiers could see, and what Manus could see as well.
I am nervous and I am sad but this is very worthwhile and it has to be done-Helen Deery
Manus Deery’s sister Helen who will be present at Tuesday’s reconstruction told the ‘Journal’: “I am nervous and I am sad but this is very worthwhile and it has to be done.
“I have little recollection of that night, so it is going to bring it all back to me again.
“I always have hope.
“I never have much faith in the system, but I always have hope.”
The findings of the reconstruction by an independent engineering firm will then form part of a package of evidence that will be heard at a Preliminary Enquiry to be held at Belfast Court on Monday, June 13.
It is expected that soon after this an actual date for a fresh inquest into the shooting of Manus Deery will finally be established.
In January this year during a set of hearings into legacy inquest cases relating to the ‘Troubles’ Belfast Court was told the Manus Deery case was at a very advanced stage in terms of proceeding to a fresh hearing.