Prosecution of Soldier F over Bloody Sunday murders delayed for 24 hours due to court mix-up

Soldier F is accused of the 1972 murders of James Wray and William McKinney

The scheduled resumption of the prosecution of a military veteran for two murders on Bloody Sunday has been adjourned for 24 hours after a mix-up about what court it was due to be heard in.

While prosecution and defence lawyers in the case involving Soldier F were directed to attend court in Belfast on Tuesday morning, the district judge presiding about the case was sent to Derry.

Last week, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced it was recommencing proceedings against the former paratrooper on two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

Soldier F is accused of the murders of James Gray and William McKinney on the day in January 1972 when members of the Parachute Regiment shot dead 13 civil rights protesters on the streets of Derry.

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The PPS previously called a halt to the prosecution citing concerns that the case could collapse if it proceeded to trial.

However, earlier this year the Divisional Court of the High Court in Belfast overruled that decision after it was challenged by the family of one of the victims.

And earlier this month, the court rejected the PPS’s bid to have an appeal referred to the UK Supreme Court.

After reviewing its position, the PPS then decided to resume the prosecution.

That move had been expected to formally take place at a mention hearing before District Judge Peter Magill on Tuesday morning.

However, the judge attended court in Derry while lawyers involved in the case attended court in Belfast.

One lawyer explained the scheduling error to District Judge Alana McSorley who was sitting in Belfast Magistrates’ Court.

“We understand this case has essentially been listed in error before your worship this morning,” he said.

“District Judge Magill of course has had conduct of the case, but essentially he has been sent to [Derry] this morning and we are here.

“In those circumstances rather than trouble your worship with any substantive matter we understand the proposal of the court is the matter be listed before District Judge Magill tomorrow in court nine in this building.”

The PPS originally halted the prosecution of Soldier F amid concerns the case could collapse in light of a separate court ruling on the admissibility of evidence which caused the collapse of another Troubles murder trial involving two military veterans.

The McKinney family then successfully challenged the original decision by prosecutors by way of judicial review.

Bloody Sunday was one of the darkest days in the history of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

While 13 people were killed on the day, another man shot by paratroopers died four months later.

Though many consider him the 14th victim of Bloody Sunday, his death was formally attributed to an inoperable brain tumour. — PA