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Man 'shot on his knees' by Army in 1986 killing

Published on 2023-05-28 11:54:42 source:The Guardian

An inquest into the death of a suspected IRA member killed by soldiers in 1986 has heard he had injuries consistent with being shot while on his knees and back.

Francis Bradley, 20, was shot dead in disputed circumstances at a farm near Toome, in February 1986.

The Coroner's Court in Londonderry heard he was hit eight times.

Police at the time said they believed Mr Bradley was "an important member of the Provisional IRA".

It is the second inquest into the 20 year-old's death after then Attorney General John Larkin ordered a new inquiry in 2010.

Opening the new inquest in Derry on Monday, counsel to the coroner outlined the circumstances around the killing.

He told the court the last person to see Francis Bradley alive was now deceased.

Counsel for the coroner said the witness had told the original inquest he had gone with the deceased to play cards.

As they got out of a car and walked towards one of the farm's shed there was a burst "of heavy gunfire".

This witness said he then heard someone shout "we've got one of the Bs" in an apparent reference to an expletive.

Statements from the soldiers involved - identified as Soldier A and Soldier C - were taken in the days following the shooting.

Soldier A said he was on patrol in a civilian vehicle and had back up in another civilian vehicle.

A group of soldiers had taken up position around a farmhouse as a result of received intelligence, he said.

The court heard the soldier claimed he saw a young man enter a gap, look around, then bend down.

The soldier said he then stood up with a rifle in his hand.

Soldier A said he fired one shot believing this man posed a threat.

The soldier said he heard a second burst of firing from another soldier.

In a statement given to the original inquest, Soldier C said he saw the man picking up a rifle and then opened fire believing the man "was going to get up and engage us".

He said he "instinctively" fired another burst of shots when he thought he saw movement from the injured man.

In total, Soldier C fired 20 shots and Soldier A one shot, the inquest was told.

A pathologist's report found that the deceased was shot eight times with one of the wounds being consistent with him being hit while on his knees.

Other wounds were consistent with him being shot while lying on his back.

A Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Inspector gave evidence at the intital inquest, the court was told.

He said two rifles were found beside the dead man who was wearing gloves at the time.

The coroner was told that the RUC believed Francis Bradley was "an important member of the Provisional IRA".

He had previously been arrested on three occasions.

The hearing was also told of an allegation that on one occasion in Gough Barracks in County Armagh, the 20-year-old was told he would not see his 21st birthday.

The hearing continues.

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