Northern Ireland

Ballymurphy inquest: 'Two victims were likely shot from behind'

John Laverty and Joseph Corr
Image caption John Laverty and Joseph Corr were shot dead on the Upper Whiterock Road in west Belfast

Two men killed in Ballymurphy in 1971 are likely to have been shot from behind, and to have been bent over, crouching or kneeling, the Ballymurphy Inquest has heard.

On Tuesday the court heard pathology and ballistics evidence on the deaths of Joseph Corr and John Laverty.

Both men were fatally shot on the Upper Whiterock Road, an area also known as the Mountain Loney, on 11 August 1971.

Soldiers were advancing down the road towards Ballymurphy.

The soldiers were members of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, which was based in Ballymurphy at the time.

The inquest is examining the remaining two of 10 deaths over a period of three days in August 1971, after internment was introduced in Northern Ireland.

Joseph Corr, 43, was struck by a bullet of the type used by Army self-loading rifles (SLRs).

He was wounded in the chest and abdomen, and died two weeks later.

A second wound to his arm could have caused by the same bullet, or a different shot.

Image caption An inquest is examining the deaths of 10 people killed in shootings at Ballymurphy in August 1971

John Laverty, 20, was struck by two bullets, with one wound considered to be fatal.

An high velocity SLR-type bullet was recovered from his body, after it had struck him in the upper right thigh and travelled upwards through and across his body.

The court heard Mr Laverty would most likely have been conscious and able to move for a short time after he was shot, before dying from internal bleeding.

A joint report pathology report was presented to the court, having been compiled by expert witnesses Dr Benjamin Swift, Dr Nathaniel Carey and Professor Jack Crane.

The court also heard a joint ballistics report compiled by expert witnesses Paul Olden, Anne Kiernan, and Mark Mastaglio.

It was considered likely that both victims had been bent over, crouching or kneeling when they were struck.

Although other rifles than military SLRs could fire such bullets, Mr Olden told the court there was no evidence they were in use in Northern Ireland at that time.

No weapons found

The court previously heard evidence from 1972 from a former Parachute Regiment soldier - Soldier B - who said he had shot two gunmen who had fired up the road at approaching soldiers.

It has not been possible to trace or identify this witness for the current inquest.

No other soldier has testified that he fired at the two men that morning.

The court has heard evidence from both civilian and military witnesses that no weapons were found with the victims, nor was there any evidence that they had been firing any.

Their families have always denied that they were gunmen.

Related Topics

More on this story