Prosecutors will call 25 civilian witnesses to testify in murder trial against former Para Soldier F 47 years after Bloody Sunday shootings
- Soldier F is accused of two murders and four attempted murders in Londonderry
- Ex-serviceman is accused over the deaths of James Wray and William McKinney
- Solicitor said today he intends to content anonymity afforded to Soldier F
A former paratrooper who served in Northern Ireland’s Troubles will call 25 civilian witnesses to testify in a murder case against him 47 years after the Bloody Sunday shootings.
The ex-serviceman is accused of two murders in the Bogside area of Londonderry, a barrister told a court today.
Known only as Soldier F, he is accused of murdering James Wray and William McKinney, along with four attempted murders.
James Wray (left) and William McKinney (right) were shot dead in Londonderry on January 30 in 1972 and Soldier F is accused of their murder
Bloody Sunday became one of the most notorious incidents of the Northern Ireland Troubles when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on a crowd of civil rights demonstrators, killing 13
A brief hearing at Derry Magistrates’ Court primarily concerned procedural timetabling matters.
The ex-paratrooper’s barrister Mark Mulholland QC is to challenge any decision to send his client for trial.
He confirmed that 25 witnesses were being lined up as part of the prosecution but said some of those may not necessarily be called.
After the case, solicitor for the McKinney family and four wounded victims Ciaran Shiels said: ‘We have indicated to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that we intend to challenge the anonymity order that has been granted to the soldier.
‘The position of the families is that there is a significant departure from the principles of open justice, that this defendant is being treated more favourably than other people charged with homicide and indeed murder.’
The case was adjourned until January 17. Mr Shiels added: ‘There are 25 witnesses that Soldier F’s legal team have indicated that they wish to hear oral evidence from. We know that all those witnesses are civilian witnesses.
‘The PPS now have to, because some of that evidence was taken some time ago, the PPS have to make contact with some of those witnesses and see first of all whether they are happy to come to the three-week committal voluntarily or, if that is not the case, they have to look at witness-summonsing any of those witnesses.
‘In addition to that, there are hearsay applications which have to be determined by the court.
‘They are very important in relation to this prosecution and those hearsay applications concern the accounts of the colleagues of Soldier F within the anti-tank platoon who put Soldier F within the confines of Glenfada Park North where all these shootings occurred.’
He said the PPS also intended to call some evidence in respect of the shootings on a rubble barricade which nobody is currently charged with to give proper context to the events and the activities of the anti-tank platoon.
In court, Mr Mulholland indicated that he expected the committal hearing to take three or four weeks and added notices of objection to hearsay would take two or three days.
District Judge Peter Magill said: ‘It seems that the parties are in broad agreement and it seems to me, at least initially, that things are moving with due dispatch considering how complicated the matter is.’
A timeline of Bloody Sunday and the Troubles
August 1969 – British Government first send troops into Northern Ireland to restore order after three days of rioting in Catholic Londonderry.
30 January 1972 – On ‘Bloody Sunday’ 13 civilians are shot dead by the British Army during a civil rights march in Londonderry.
British troops in Northern Ireland during the Troubles which began in the late 1960s and lasted until 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement
March 1972 – The Stormont Government is dissolved and direct rule imposed by London.
1970s – The IRA begin its bloody campaign of bombings and assassinations in Britain.
April 1981 – Bobby Sands, a republicans on hunger strike in the Maze prison, is elected to Parliament. He dies a month later.
October 1984 – An IRA bomb explodes at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where Margaret Thatcher is staying during the Tory Party conference.
Early 1990s – Margaret Thatcher and then Sir John Major set up a secret back channel with the IRA to start peace talks. The communications was so secret most ministers did not know about it.
Norman Tebbit, a Conservative cabinet minister at the time, is carried from the wreckage of Brighton’s Grand Hotel following the IRA bomb in 1984
Johnathan Ball (left), 3, and Tim Parry (right), 12, were killed in 1993 after IRA bombs exploded in the small town of Warrington, Cheshire
1993 – Two IRA bombs hidden in litter bins detonated on Bridge Street in Warrington Cheshire, killing 12-year-old Tim Parry and three-year-old Johnathan Ball and injuring dozens of civilians.
April 1998 – Tony Blair helps to broker the Good Friday Agreement, which is hailed as the end of the Troubles. It establishes the Northern Ireland Assembly with David Trimble as its first minister.
2000s – With some exceptions the peace process holds and republican and loyalist paramilitaries decommission their weapons
2010 – The Saville Report exonerates the civilians who were killed on Bloody Sunday leading to a formal apology from then Prime Minister David Cameron to the families.
2019 – Prosecutors announce whether to brig charges against the 17 surviving Paras who fired shots that day.
A 1998 photograph of Lord Saville of Newdigate chairing the Bloody Sunday inquiry