August court date set for ex-soldier charged over Bloody Sunday

‘ Soldier F’ faces charges for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney

A motorcyclist at a rally in London supported by British army veterans last April criticising the prosecution of Soldier F. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images

A motorcyclist at a rally in London supported by British army veterans last April criticising the prosecution of Soldier F. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images

 

A former British army paratrooper facing prosecution for two murders and four attempted murders on Bloody Sunday is expected to appear in court in Derry in August.

The Army veteran — a former lance corporal in the Parachute Regiment known only as Soldier F — faces charges for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney in Derry in 1972.

He also faces charges for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.

Relatives have been informed by Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that it is anticipated that Soldier F will make his first court appearance on a date in August at the magistrates’ court in Derry.

A PPS spokeswoman said: “Significant progress has been made on the process of preparing the large volume of court papers required before a summons can issue to Soldier F.

“While this complex process is at an advanced stage, the public prosecution service has had to request some further material from police before the necessary papers can be finalised.

“Based on the estimated time required for this material to be provided, the prosecution team expects to be in a position to issue a summons to the defendant next month.

“It is therefore envisaged at this stage that Soldier F will make his first court appearance on a date in August, at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court.

“In line with our commitment to keep the families informed of all developments, the PPS wrote to those involved last week with this latest timetable.”

Ciaran Shiels, from Madden & Finucane solicitors — which represents Bloody Sunday families, said: “We have requested a timetable in relation to the prosecutions and we had previously made submissions that Soldier F should face criminal proceedings in Derry as it was in this city where the crimes we say he committed took place.”

Thirteen civil rights demonstrators were shot dead on January 30th 1972, on one of the most notorious days of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Bloody Sunday families vowed to continue their campaign for justice after it was announced in March that only one former paratrooper — Soldier F — is to be prosecuted over the shootings.

Relatives of those who died reacted with a mix of vindication, disappointment and defiance.

As well as the 13 who died on the day, 15 others were shot and injured.

One of the injured died months later from an inoperable tumour and some consider him the 14th fatality.

Prosecutors had been considering evidence in relation to potential counts of murder, attempted murder and causing grievous injury with intent.

A murder investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) followed the £195 million inquiry and files on 18 soldiers were submitted to prosecutors in 2016 and 2017 for consideration.

One has since died. Four other soldiers included in the Saville Report died before police had completed their investigation.

Papers before prosecutors included 668 witness statements and numerous photos, video and audio evidence. - PA