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Posted: 2019-04-15 16:31:23

Veterans slam 'politically motivated witch hunt' as 'Soldier B' faces murder charge over boy, 15, who was shot twice in the head during the Troubles almost 50 years ago

  • Daniel Hegarty died after he was shot near his Londonderry home in July 1972 
  • Veteran will be charged with his murder, Public Prosecution Service said today 
  • Daniel's cousin, then 17, was also shot and injured during the incident in Creggan
  • Former soldier will also be charged with wounding with intent over his injury 
  • Comes a month after paratrooper 'Soldier F' was revealed to be facing charges  

A veteran of the Troubles in Northern Ireland has slammed a murder charge being brought against another former soldier as a 'politically motivated with hunt'.

Branding the British government 'spineless', Alan Barry hit out at a man known only as Soldier B being charged with the murdering of a 15-year-old who was shot twice in the head near his Londonderry home in July 1972..

Daniel Hegarty was shot in Creggan area during Operation Motorman, which was aimed at removing 'no go zones' for Catholics and Protestants during the Troubles. 

Mr Barry, who co-founded Justice for Northern Ireland veterans, told MailOnline this afternoon that the British government should be ashamed for caving to Irish republicans.

‘This is a politically motivated witch hunt coming from Northern Ireland and Sinn Fein,' he said. ‘We have a spineless government. This is a government that has shown how spineless they are on Brexit, we have the same lack of back bone over standing up to the republican movement in Northern Ireland.' 

The Public Prosecution Service said today that Soldier B will also be charged with wounding with intent after Daniel's cousin, Christopher Hegarty, who was also shot and injured in the incident aged 17. Last year the Hegarty family won the right to seek the prosecution of the soldier after the High Court quashed a PPS decision not to bring criminal charges against him. 

Today's announcement comes amid public outcry a following last month's announcement that a former paratrooper known as Soldier F is facing murder charges over the Bloody Sunday massacre in Bogside six months before. 

Daniel Hegarty (pictured) was killed in Londonderry where he was shot twice in the head aged just 15 years old

Daniel Hegarty (pictured) was killed in Londonderry where he was shot twice in the head aged just 15 years old

Pictured: An armoured vehicle patrols Londonderry during Operation Motorman in Northern Ireland's Troubles

Pictured: An armoured vehicle patrols Londonderry during Operation Motorman in Northern Ireland's Troubles

Pictured: British troops move through the streets of Londonderry in Northern Ireland in August 1972

Pictured: British troops move through the streets of Londonderry in Northern Ireland in August 1972 

Daniel Hegarty's sisters Philomena, Kathleen and Margaret are pictured on the spot where he was shot in 1972 during Operation Motorman. Last year they won the right to seek the prosecution of Soldier B

Daniel Hegarty's sisters Philomena, Kathleen and Margaret are pictured on the spot where he was shot in 1972 during Operation Motorman. Last year they won the right to seek the prosecution of Soldier B

Director of the PPS Stephen Herron met with members of the Hegarty family to inform them of the decision at a private meeting in Londonderry on Monday.

Mr Herron said: 'Following the ruling of the Divisional Court last year I conducted a review of this case. I have given careful consideration to all of the available evidence.

'This has included material obtained in the course of the initial investigation, by a later investigation carried out by the Historical Enquiries Team, material generated by inquest proceedings and a number of expert forensic reports, the most recent of which was provided after the court ruling in 2018.

'I have concluded that the evidence which can be presented at court is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction and that the evidential test for prosecution is met.

Pictured: William McKinney, who Soldier F is accused of murdering on Bloody Sunday
Pictured: James Wray, who Soldier F is accused of murdering in the massacre

Soldier F is accused of murdering Patrick McKinney (left) and James Wray (right) on Bloody Sunday and today it was announced that Soldier B will also be charged 

Pictured: Stephen Herron, Northern Ireland´s director of public prosecutions, as the PPS announces that Soldier B will be charged

Pictured: Stephen Herron, Northern Ireland´s director of public prosecutions, as the PPS announces that Soldier B will be charged 

'As with all cases, I have also carefully considered whether the public interest requires prosecution through the courts.

Veteran hands service medal back in protest at Soldier F's treatment 

The CPS announced last month that the man, whose identity is being protected, is to face prosecution for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney on Bloody Sunday.

The massacre in January 1972 occurred when soldiers from 1 Para opened fire on protesters, claiming the lives of 14 Irish nationals and wounding at least 14 more. 

But the move has outraged veterans, with Martin Ledbury - who joined the Royal Artillery aged 16 - handing back his service medal in protest of the treatment of Soldier F.

The father-of-one, now 59, described Soldier F as 'part of the brotherhood' of veterans and is now planning to give back his service medal in a mark of solidarity. 

'Particular consideration was given to Soldier B's ill health, regarding which an updated medical report was obtained.

'In line with our Code for Prosecutors, I have concluded, given the seriousness of the charges, that the public interest test for prosecution is also met.

'I have therefore taken the decision to prosecute an individual identified as soldier B for the offence of murder in relation to the death of Daniel Hegarty and for the wounding of Christopher Hegarty.

'This decision has been reached following an objective and impartial application of the test for prosecution which was conducted in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors and with the benefit of advice from senior counsel.'

The charges face by Soldier F have sparked outrage among veterans and supporters. 

Soldier F is the only paratrooper to be facing charges in relation to the Bloody Sunday massacre and thousands of bikers descended on central London on Friday to protest his treatment. 

British veteran 'Soldier F' to be charged with murder over Bloody Sunday massacre in Londonderry

By Richard Spillett 

It was announced last month that a former serviceman, named only as 'Soldier F', will stand trial for the murders of two men during the Bloody Sunday shooting in 1972 and the attempted murders of four others. 

Soldier F is one of 17 former members of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment who were investigated over the violence which left 13 people dead in Londonderry in 1972.

The sixteen other British military veterans who were investigated over Bloody Sunday will not face action, it was announced this morning. 

A photo from January 30 1972 shows demonstrators facing off with British soldiers minutes before paratroopers opened fire, killing 13 civilians on what became known as Bloody Sunday

A photo from January 30 1972 shows demonstrators facing off with British soldiers minutes before paratroopers opened fire, killing 13 civilians on what became known as Bloody Sunday

Soldier F is now thought to be in his 70s and faces trial for the alleged murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the alleged attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell. 

In the wake of the landmark decision to prosecute the soldier, MPs accused the government of failing to do enough to protect those who fought in the Army.

At the same time as Soldier F's prosecution was announced, authorities revealed that two alleged Official IRA members would face no criminal action.

The British government said it will support Soldier F and cover all of his legal costs, with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson praising the 'courage and distinction' of those who fought in Northern Ireland.

But the minister was criticised by fellow Tory MP and ex-Army Officer Johnny Mercer for failing to do enough to protect soldiers from prosecution.

Families of those killed wept after the prosecutor's decision was announced on March 14. 

They welcomed the charges brought against Soldier F but said they felt more of the group should face court. 

Soldier F was not named by prosecutors but may be named when he's brought before court in the coming weeks, but could apply for his anonymity to be extended.

Soldiers involved in the shooting were given anonymity in the 2010 public inquiry, although the report refers to him being called 'Dave' by fellow Paras.  

What was Operation Motorman? 

The operation was the British Army's largest since the Suez Crisis of 1956 and was aimed at retaking 'no-go areas', which were usually controlled by republican paramilitaries. 

As well as Daniel Hegarty dying, 19-year-old Provisional IRA member Seamus Bradley bled to death after being shot. 

Operation Motorman began on July 31, 1972, and about 4,000 extra soldiers were drafted in for the job, bringing the total involved to about 22,000.

Pictured: A stop-and-search is conducted near Craigavon bridge in the aftermath of Operation Motorman

Pictured: A stop-and-search is conducted near Craigavon bridge in the aftermath of Operation Motorman 

About 5,300 soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment were also deployed as the barriers marking out 'no-go zones' were bulldozed. 

This was the only time that the British Army deployed armoured vehicles in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.  

The operation lasted just a matter of hours and focused on areas included the so-called Free Derry, named as such to connote independence from the British.

Troops flooded into the no-go areas after the bulldozing and the IRA did not have the numbers or ammunition to engage in open battle against such a force.

The republicans did not try to hold their ground and by the end of the day both Derry and Belfast were cleared of no-go zones.   

 

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