Army veteran may be charged over ‘unjustified’ death of IRA man
A FORMER British soldier could face a possible criminal probe into the death of an IRA member 47 years ago after a coroner ruled the killing was “unjustified”. Seamus Bradley was shot dead in the Creggan area of Londonderry in July 1972 at the age of 19. Troops from The Royal Scots had deployed to the area as part of Operation Motorman, an attempt to gain control of republican areas across Northern Ireland that had been considered no-go zones.
The Army claimed the teenager was shot while he was in a tree, armed with a machine gun, and suffered additional injuries as he fell. However, his family alleged he was killed later, claiming he was taken away in an Army vehicle and that he sustained fatal injuries while under interrogation.
Judge Patrick Kinney, overseeing an inquest at Belfast Coroner’s Court yesterday, rejected both those versions of events as he ruled Mr Bradley was killed by a soldier who got out of a Saracen vehicle, dropped to one knee and opened fire.
He also said he was satisfied Mr Bradley was not posing a threat at the time he was killed and that the soldier had breached the Army’s “yellow card” rules about when they could shoot. Declaring that the IRA man could have survived his injuries had he been properly treated by soldiers at the time, the coroner said he was going to send a report to Northern Ireland’s director of public prosecutions (DPP).
Although the coroner had been unable to confirm the identity of the soldier involved, if he was still alive and could be identified, the DPP could decide to press charges against him. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said yesterday: “We acknowledge the outcome delivered by the coroner into the death of Seamus Bradley and will now review the detailed findings”.
An inquest in 1973 returned an open verdict and Northern Ireland’s attorney general ordered a fresh inquest in 2013.