Brother of Bloody Sunday victim welcomes judge's ruling on hearsay evidence in Soldier F prosecution

Brother of Bloody Sunday victim welcomes judge's ruling on hearsay evidence in Soldier F prosecution

THE BROTHER of one of the victims of Bloody Sunday has welcomed a judge's ruling that hearsay evidence is admissible in a prosecution against a former British soldier.

Bloody Sunday resulted in the deaths of 14 people after soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians during a civil rights march in Derry on January 30, 1972.

One former soldier, referred to as Soldier F, is being prosecuted for the murders of two of the deceased.

William McKinney, 26, and James Wray, 22, both died after being shot in the back in Glenfada Park as they fled after paratroopers had begun firing.

At Derry Magistrates' Court today, District Judge Ted Magill said the evidence of five former soldiers who were present on the day could be used in the prosecution.

'Significant evidence'

Following today's ruling, Mr McKinney's brother Mickey said it had given him 'renewed confidence' that justice would be served.

"We welcome the decision of District Judge Magill to admit into evidence the statements of five former paratroopers," he said in a statement issued through Madden & Finucane Solicitors.

"Each of these witnesses provides significant evidence of Soldier F being present in Glenfada Park firing his weapon.

"We look forward now with renewed confidence to Soldier F being formally returned to stand trial for murder and attempted murder as expeditiously as possible."

The evidence in question relates to statements originally given by the five soldiers — three of whom are now deceased — to the 1972 Widgery Report into the massacre.

The evidence of a surviving six soldier was ruled inadmissible.

The prosecution of Solider F — who is also facing five charges of attempted murder — was initially dropped in 2021 before resuming in September 2022 following a case review.

However, according to BBC News, Judge Magill also revealed today that Soldier F said in a 2016 interview that he would not answer questions about Bloody Sunday as he no longer had 'any reliable recollection of these events'.

MLA praises 'dignified' families

Today's ruling was also welcomed by Foyle MLA Pádraig Delargy, who accused the British Government of trying to get those responsible 'off the hook' through its controversial Legacy Bill.

"Today's court ruling is another positive step for the Bloody Sunday families in their ongoing efforts to achieve justice," said the Sinn Féin MLA.

"I want to again commend the steadfast, dignified and determined campaign that they have spearheaded for over five decades.

"We will continue to stand with the families as they continue in their pursuit of justice for their loved ones.

"The British Government are attempting to close the door on families ever getting truth and justice through the courts with its flawed legacy bill that is a cynical attempt to let British state forces off the hook.

"They should listen to the voices of victims and families and bin this flawed legislation without any more delay and get on with implementing the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House almost 10 years ago."