Inquest: Ex-soldier says he heard no shooting on night Derrywoman Kathleen Thompson was killed

A former soldier has told the resumed inquest into the death of Derry woman Kathleen Thompson in November 1971 that he did not hear any shooting that evening.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 9:25 am
Kathleen Thompson.
Kathleen Thompson.

The soldier, identified as KTM 1046, was giving evidence on the first day of the resumed inquest into the death of the mother of six.

It is expected that this week’s hearing will conclude the evidence-taking phase of the hearing, after which Coroner Judge Sandra Crawford will give her ruling.

The Coroner said on Monday that she was mindful that this November will mark the 50th anniversary of Mrs Thompson’s death.

At Monday’s hearing, the former soldier said he could recall the operation on the night of November 5/ 6, 1971. He said he was a platoon commander and his job was to provide cover out in the countryside along the Creggan Estate.

The witness said that during the operation he could hear ‘raucous noises’ including the banging of dustbin lids and shouting.

He was asked had he heard any ‘weapons discharged’ and he said he had not.

The witness was asked would he have been ‘aware to the sound of gunfire’ given that it was a large scale operation and he replied he would have been. It was put to the witness that it was accepted there was at least more than one shot fired on the night and he said he had no recollection of hearing any shots.

KTM 1046 said he could not recall hearing about the death of Kathleen Thompson until he was contacted by the Coroner’s service in 2019.

The witness was asked about evidence that shots were fired in the direction where he believed he was, and CS gas being fired in response.

He said he would have had to give orders for either live rounds or gas to be fired and he had not given any such order.

Another witness, identified as KTM 602, told the inquest he could not remember ‘any chat’ about Kathleen Thompson being shot.

The former soldier said he would have expected if anyone had been shot there would have been ‘talk all over the camp’. But he said he had no recollection of hearing anything about Kathleen Thompson.

The witness said he could not recall the particular operation that resulted in the death of the mother of six ,but he could recall one search operation he was involved in where a shot was fired.

KTM 602 said he could recall entering a bedroom and turning on a light and that there were two children in the room who became ‘distressed’. On leaving the house he said a shot was fired that was ‘unmistakably that of a 7.62 weapon’, and that this was a shot fired nearby as the noise was like ‘a cannon’.

He said he did not believe this was the same operation.

The hearing continues.