Thomas Friel's family asks for new inquest into his death

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Relatives of a man killed by a rubber bullet 40 years ago have written to the Attorney General asking for a fresh inquest into his death.

Thomas Friel was 21 when he was hit by a rubber bullet fired by a soldier in Creggan.

His family say the emergence of declassified military documents about the use of the weapon has thrown new light on the case.

The documents were found by the Pat Finucane Centre at the public records office in London.

According to the centre, one document, written in 1977, said a court case taken by Richard Moore, who was blinded as a child by a rubber bullet, would expose the problems with the bullets and make it harder for the MoD to fight future cases involving them.

The papers stated that further tests would reveal serious problems with the bullets, including that they were tested "in a shorter time than was ideal", that they "could be lethal" and that they "could and did cause serious injuries".

The MoD later settled the case with the Moore family, out of court, for £68,000.

'New inquest'

Thomas Friel's family has said that the information in these documents may shed new light on Thomas's case.

His sister, Margaret Nash, has said it is important people know what happened.

"I felt disgusted when I heard the news about the rubber bullets," she told BBC Radio Foyle.

"When they knew that they weren't 100% safe then they shouldn't have used them. They knew they were going to use them on ordinary people.

"We have already had an enquiry by the Historical Enquiries Team but we will be asking for a new inquest.

"We need to get the truth one way or another not just for our family but for every family out there."

The solicitor for the family, Paddy McDermott, said that the Historical Enquiries team report said that Thomas was the victim of a rubber bullet.

"The information uncovered by the documents, combined with the HET report, gives us reason to ask for a fresh inquest."

Mr McDermott also told BBC Radio Foyle that the family had asked the Historical Enquiries Team to look again at Thomas's death.

"There was an open verdict in the original investigation so we hope this will bring the truth out," said Mr McDermott.

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