The commanding officer of the soldier who killed Manus Deery held an emotional meeting with the teenager's family to express regret, his inquest has heard.
The coroner commended the admirable act of Trevor Wilson and the grace with which the Deery family received it.
Mr Wilson was not present at the fatal incident in Londonderry's Bogside in May 1972 but was the commanding officer of the company of the Royal Welch Fusiliers of which the soldier who shot Manus - Private William Glasgow - was a member.
The private meeting with the Deery family happened after he gave evidence to the fresh inquest.
"He cried his eyes out," Manus's sister Helen said.
"In fact my sister's hair was wet with his tears. I accepted his apology and I believed him."
She added: "It meant the world to us, and it meant the world for us to see he was so sorry about it."
Coroner Mr Justice Adrian Colton highlighted the significance of the behind-closed-doors encounter as he delivered his ruling.
"If this inquest achieves nothing else then at least the meeting between Mr Wilson and the family vindicates the efforts that had been made to properly inquire into the circumstances surrounding Manus's death," he said.