Date set for inquest into fatal 1978 shooting of father-of-six Patrick Duffy by British Army members

Date set for inquest into fatal 1978 shooting of father-of-six Patrick Duffy by British Army members

A DATE has been set for an inquest into the fatal shooting of father-of-six Patrick Duffy in 1978 by members of the British Army.

The 50-year-old was unarmed when he was shot up to 14 times by a suspected SAS undercover unit.

There were fears the inquest — granted by then Attorney General John Larkin in 2019 — may not be heard before the British Government's controversial Legacy Bill was enacted.

However, at a hearing on Thursday, Coroner Mrs Bagnall J set the inquest for April 19-21, 2023 at Derry Court.

It follows her ruling last month that the inquest should be opened in modular form using substantive, non-contentious evidence that does not require input from the MOD.

Family grateful

The solicitor for Mr Duffy's family, Patricia Coyle of Harte Coyle Collins Solicitors, said the family was relieved their father's killing would finally be 'objectively scrutinised'.

"My clients welcome the decision by the Coroner Mrs Bagnall J today to open this fresh inquest and hear substantive evidence in Derry Court from the 19th to the 21st of April 2023," said Ms Coyle.

"They have waited a long time for a court to objectively scrutinise the exact circumstances of their father's killing.

"They also take this opportunity to appeal to any members of the public who may have useful information about their father's killing to contact our office in advance of the inquest opening on 02890 278227.

"They are grateful for any support and information the public in Derry or elsewhere can provide."

Shot at close range

Mr Duffy died instantly after being shot just after 9pm on November 24, 1978 at a suspected IRA arms dump at 2 Maureen Avenue, Derry.

He was alone in the house and unarmed at the time of the shooting.

One of his children, Margarita, was sitting in a car outside the house at the time of the shooting with her seven-month-old nephew.

According to Harte Coyle Collins Solicitors, it is believed the killing was carried out by an undercover SAS unit dressed in civilian clothes, who had been secreted in the property prior to the shooting for a number of days.

Pathology evidence at the original inquest, held on December 9-10, 1980, confirmed that Mr Duffy was shot up to 14 times.

The same evidence confirmed that bullets were fired from his left-hand side or behind him into his back, with at least two of these shots being at close range to the left side of his chest.

The inquest will hear evidence from Mr Duffy's family, other non-contentious evidence from witnesses who have died since the original inquest and some expert evidence.

In January, the family provided the Coroner's Service with physical evidence items including the clothes their father was wearing when he was fatally shot.