British soldier who shot Daniel Hegarty charged with murder

Daniel Hegarty was shot dead by British ‘Soldier B’ in Derry in July 1972

A SOLDIER who shot dead a 15-year-old boy in Derry, in the north of Ireland in July 1972 is to be charged with murder.

Daniel Hegarty was shot twice in the head during the largest single operation by the British army in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

The Public Prosecution Service has informed the teenager’s family that the soldier, referred to as Soldier B, is to be charged with murder.

He will also be charged with wounding with intent for the shooting of Daniel’s 17-year-old cousin Christopher Hegarty, who was also shot in the head but survived.

The teenagers were shot during Operation Motorman, when thousands of British soldiers and armoured vehicles took to the streets of Derry and Belfast to clear a number of ‘no-go areas’ established by the IRA.

An inquest into Daniel’s death in 2011 concluded that he posed no threat and had been shot without warning.

Two years ago Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced that it had decided not to prosecute the soldier.

It said there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction.

But that decision was quashed after a legal challenge by Daniel’s family.

A judge said the decision not to prosecute was based on ‘irredeemably flawed’ reasoning, and that a four-year delay in reaching the decision was ‘unjustified and unlawful’.

PPS Director Stephen Herron met Daniel’s family last Monday and told them that after a further review of the case, it had been decided to prosecute the soldier.

‘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,’ he said in a statement afterwards.

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

‘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 offense of murder in relation to the death of Daniel Hegarty and the wounding of Christopher Hegarty.’

Speaking afterwards, Daniel’s family said this was a day they did not believe they would see.

‘We were just overwhelmed this morning when we heard he was getting prosecuted,’ said his tearful sister, Kathleen Hegarty.

‘It was like a dark cloud was lifted.’

In a statement, Hugh Brady, a brother-in-law of the teenager, welcomed the decision.

‘It has taken 47 years to finally get the state to do the right thing,’ he said.

‘We understand that the criminal justice process must now be allowed to take its own course.

‘We will respect that in the same way we have respected the legal process that has brought us to this day.’

Mr Brady added: ‘We wish Soldier B no ill will. We have not, and do not, seek revenge or retribution. We just want the criminal justice process to begin.

‘We remember Daniel today and his short time on this earth. Daniel Hegarty, this is his day of justice.’

The decision to prosecute Soldier B comes a month after the PPS announced that a former British soldier is to be charged with two murders on Bloody Sunday in Derry in January 1972.

The man, referred to as Soldier F, is also being charged with the attempted murders of four others shot that day.

  • Unions at Bombardier Shorts in Belfast are to consult their membership on industrial action.

It follows what the Unite union says is the Canadian-owned company’s decision to make a proportion of previously announced redundancies compulsory.

Bombardier – where the payroll has halved since 2014 – yesterday announced a further 30 to 35 compulsory redundancies as part of a jobs cull, just a day after announcing up to 40 voluntary redundancies.

And in response to workforce concerns, a consultative ballot on strike action has been agreed by Unite and GMB union representatives, commencing on Monday April 29.

Wings for the A220 plane – formerly known as the CSeries – are made at a factory in Belfast, supporting about 1,000 jobs.

Susan Fitzgerald, Unite’s regional coordinating officer, said: ‘This is just the latest instalment in a series of job losses at Bombardier operations in Northern Ireland.

‘Workers across the sites reacted with sadness and indignation to the news that management are to seek a further between 30 and 35 compulsory redundancies in order to deliver their target of 490 job losses – part of a global jobs cull of 5,000 to slash $250 million from operating costs.

‘It comes only a day after the company confirmed up to 40 voluntary redundancies, and taken in conjunction with previous redundancies under the current round of jobs cuts and following years of large-scale workforce reductions, this marks a nadir for Bombardier’s employment in Northern Ireland.

‘The unions and our members are not going to sit back and watch as another leading Northern Ireland manufacturer suffers death by a thousand cuts in the interests of profit-maximisation and the endless attempts to satisfy the greed of bond-holders.

‘We won’t go the same way as ship-building in Belfast.

‘Bombardier’s global management in Montreal appear to be intent on driving forward a disinvestment strategy leaving many in the workforce questioning whether there’s any room in that vision for their sites in Northern Ireland.’

She added: ‘Unions have come together to challenge the company to come clean on their future plans for Northern Ireland and to “open their books” on the underlying plans they have to address the financial demands of bondholders.

‘Cutting back on jobs and skills in Belfast is not a strategy for growth, however the financial markets may view it.’

In 2018, Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier cut 490 jobs from its operations in the north of Ireland, where it employs about 4,000 people across several locations.

Unite at the time said the job losses were a ‘bombshell, unjustified in the face of rising profits’.

The company employs 69,500 worldwide, and most of its NI-based workforce are based at the wing-making plant in Belfast.