Former soldier faces murder charge over death of NI teenager in 1972

Daniel Hegarty
Daniel Hegarty
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A former solider is to be prosecuted over the death of a teenage boy in Northern Ireland 47 years ago.

Fifteen-year-old Daniel Hegarty was shot and killed by a member of an Army patrol on duty in the Creggan area of the city on July 31, 1972, during what was known as ‘Operation Motorman’.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has today issued a decision to prosecute the former soldier, identified as Soldier B, for the offence of murder. He faces a further charge of wounding with intent in respect of a second youth.

Daniel died after being shot twice in the head by Soldier B. His cousin Christopher Hegarty, then aged 16, was also shot and injured in the incident.

The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron, met with members of the Hegarty family to inform them of the decision at a private meeting in Londonderry today.

Speaking afterwards, the director said: “Following the ruling of the Divisional Court last year I conducted a review of this case.

“I have given careful consideration to all of the available evidence. This has included material obtained in the course of the initial investigation; by a later investigation carried out by the Historical Enquiries Team; material generated by inquest proceedings and a number of expert forensic reports, the most recent of which was provided after the court ruling in 2018.

“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.”

Mr Herron said the decision had been reached following “an objective and impartial application of the test for prosecution”, which he said was “conducted in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors and with the benefit of advice from senior counsel”.

He added: “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.”

The confirmation that Soldier B will face charges comes a month after the PPS announced it was prosecuting another former solider (Soldier F) for murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday,