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Former British soldier charged with 1972 murder of an Irish teen

A former British soldier is to be charged with the murder of a fifteen-year-old Irish teen in Londonderry during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Daniel Hegarty was the fifteen-year-old teenager who was shot twice in the head during an Army operation near his home in the Cretan in July 1972.

The soldier referred to as Soldier B, is also facing a second charge of wounding with intent to kill the teenager’s cousin. Christopher Hegarty, Daniel’s cousin, was also shot in the head but survived.

A 2011 inquiry into this death found that Daniel Hegarty posed no risk and was shot without warning during Operation Motorman.

Operation Motorman which was designed to break up the ‘no go’ areas in nationalist parts of Derry and other areas of the north.

This decision by the Public Prosecutions Service reverses three previous decisions not to prosecute the soldier responsible for this killing. The High Court ruled last year that a decision to not prosecute, made in 2016, was based on “flawed” reasoning.

Stephen Herron, the Director of Public Prosecutions, has stated that he believes that the evidence “is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction”.

He further stated that the soldier’s current ill health will be taken into consideration.

In a statement the Hegarty family said:

"This has been a long journey. It has taken 47 years to finally get the state to do the right thing [..] We urge anyone fighting for justice never to give up […] We wish Soldier B no ill-will. We just want the criminal trial process to begin”.

“We have waited long enough for this day of justice for Daniel. We know from the support of others that it is never too late for justice not only being seen to be done, but seeing to be believed".

A total of six former soldiers are facing prosecutions over killings during the Troubles although not all the charges are murder.

The cases relate to Daniel Hegarty; Bloody Sunday; John Pat Cunningham; Joe McCann (involving two ex-soldiers); and Aidan McAnespie.

The Public Prosecution Service has stated that of the 26 “so-called legacy” cases it has made decisions on since 2011, 13 related to republican crimes, eight to loyalists, and five are connected to the Army.

Read more here and here.