Bloody Sunday: Case against Soldier F to begin in Derry

Hearing will establish if there is sufficient evidence for case to be transferred to trial

Archive footage from Bloody Sunday in Derry, January 30th 1972, showing former Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly as he helped victims of the shootings. Video: Reuters

 

The case against the former British soldier accused of murder on Bloody Sunday will begin in Derry on Wednesday.

Soldier F, a former member of the British army’s Parachute Regiment, faces charges of murdering two civilians, William McKinney and Jim Wray, in the city on January 30th, 1972.

They were among 13 people who were killed when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on anti-internment marchers. A 14th person died later.

The former soldier also faces four counts of attempted murder in connection with Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell, who were injured on Bloody Sunday, as well as an additional charge of attempted murder against a person or persons unknown.

The first listing of the case is for a committal hearing in the Magistrates’ Court. This is to establish if there is sufficient evidence for the case to be transferred to the Crown Court, where any trial will take place.

It is understood that Soldier F will not be present. His legal team are expected to contest the committal, and in such circumstances he is not legally required to attend.

Powerful image: Bishop Daly was filmed waving a white handkerchief on Bloody Sunday, as attempts are made to carry Jackie Duddy to safety. Photograph: RTÉ Archives
Powerful image: Bishop Daly was filmed waving a white handkerchief on Bloody Sunday, as attempts were made to carry Jackie Duddy to safety. Photograph: RTÉ Archives

Court proceedings are expected to be brief, with the case adjourned to allow arrangements to be made for a full hearing. Other legal applications may also be made.

Anonymity remains

The anonymity granted to the former soldier during the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday remains in place, and he cannot be identified.

The North’s Public Prosecution Service announced in March that it would prosecute Soldier F following an investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The investigation began following the publication of the Saville Report in 2010.

The public inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville, found all of those killed on Bloody Sunday were innocent victims, and none had posed a threat when they were shot. Then UK prime minister, David Cameron, apologised and said their deaths were “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

The Public Prosecution Service had considered charges against a total of 18 people, including 16 former soldiers and two alleged members of the Official IRA, but concluded that, with the exception of Soldier F, in all other cases “the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction”.

Hugh Gilmore, third left, clutching his stomach after being shot during Bloody Sunday. Photograph: PA/PA Wire
Hugh Gilmore, third left, clutching his stomach after being shot during Bloody Sunday. Photograph: PA/PA Wire

Although the Public Prosecution Service considered Lord Saville’s material, it was prohibited from citing any of that material as evidence, and made its case based on its assessment of the evidence gathered during the police investigation.