Northern Ireland

Daniel Hegarty's family to fight decision not to prosecute soldier who killed boy

Daniel Hegarty
Image caption Daniel Hegarty, 15, was shot dead by a soldier during Operation Motorman in 1972

The family of a teenage boy shot dead in Londonderry in July 1972 have refused to accept a decision not to prosecute the soldier who killed him.

Daniel Hegarty, 15, was shot twice in the head during an Army operation to clear "no-go" areas in the city.

A 2011 inquest found the boy posed no risk and was shot without warning.

His sister, Margaret Brady, criticised the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) decision not to prosecute and said they will pursue a civil action.

On Tuesday, the PPS said there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction in the case.


"That was a rude, pitiful excuse that they came up with, that it was self defence," said Mrs Brady.

"It took them four years to come back with the same answer again, no prosecution. Nothing has changed since 1973.

"We will take a civil action and we will go after this soldier."

The initial inquest was held in 1973 and recorded an open verdict. A second inquest was ordered by the Attorney General in 2009 following an examination by the Historical Enquiries Team.

The report found that the RUC investigation at the time was "hopelessly inadequate and dreadful".

As a result of the report, an inquest in 2011 found that the teenager posed no risk and dismissed claims that soldiers had shouted warnings before firing.

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Media captionDaniel's sister Margaret said the family "will never give up"

Daniel, a labourer, was unarmed when he was shot close to his home in Creggan during Operation Motorman, an army-mounted attempt to re-take areas of the city.

His cousin Christopher, 16, was also shot in the head by the same soldier, but survived.

After the decision on Tuesday, the prosecution service's Assistant Director of Central Casework, Michael Agnew, said: "The standard of proof that the prosecution must reach in a criminal trial is the high one of beyond reasonable doubt."

Margaret Brady told BBC Radio Foyle that the family will continue to fight for justice.

"My reaction was just dumbfounded," Mrs Brady said. "It makes me more determined to go on because somebody has to stand up for the innocent victims.

"My brother was innocent and these people need to be held to account."

In 2007, the British government apologised to the family after describing Daniel Hegarty as a terrorist.

Image copyright Press Association
Image caption Operation Motorman was then the largest British military operation since the Suez Crisis of 1956

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