‘State fails to prove killing of IRA man was lawful’ – Inquest

Pearse Jordan, who was shot dead in 1992. Credit: Pacemaker

A coroner has ruled that the State “failed to prove police had acted lawfully in the killing of an unarmed IRA man.”

An inquest heard Justice Horner’s decision on Monday over the death of Pearse Jordan in Belfast in 1992.

The 22-year-old IRA man was killed by an officer of the RUC, with Monday's hearing the third inquest into his contentious death.

However, Justice Horner also said that he was not convinced by the family of Mr Jordan, who claimed he was gunned down in cold blood nor by the police who claimed it was self-defence.

The coroner said that under European human rights laws the State had to prove that the killing was lawful on the ‘balance of probabilities.’

"It is sufficient to record that no version has been put forward which commends itself to this inquest on the balance of probabilities," he said.

Mr Jordan was driving a stolen car with suspected munitions for the IRA and was eventually brought to a stop after failing to halt for police on the Falls Road.

There was contention over the circumstances in which he was shot after this instance, with his family claiming eyewitnesses said he was shot in the back as he fled and the police contending that he had turned quickly turned towards them, making them fear he was going to start shooting.

Inquests into the matter were held in 1995 and 2012, but fell apart for varying reasons, with the Jordan family awarded compensation in 2014 for the hold-ups caused.

"At the remove of a quarter of a century I am simply unable to reach a concluded view which is fair and just as to whether the use of lethal force was justified or not.

"I remain profoundly unsure as to what happened."

Justice Horner also concluded that the stolen car had been carrying munitions earlier in the day, but at the time of Mr Jordan driving it, it did not contain any.

"While the family welcome the coroner's conclusion that the PSNI failed to discharge the onus upon them to provide a satisfactory and convincing explanation for the use of lethal force they are nonetheless very disappointed that the coroner failed to conclude on the evidence that the shooting of Pearse Jordan was unjustified,” a statement from the Jordan family read.

Pearse Jordan's family, pictured in February of this year. Credit: Pacemaker

"Pearse's parents had the opportunity to see and hear Sergeant A when he gave his evidence and are firmly of the belief that the evidence clearly established that the shooting of Pearse was unjustified and unjustifiable.

"The evidence before the coroner demonstrated that Pearse was shot in the back, while running away from the RUC and that he was unarmed."

"We will now study the detailed verdict closely with Pearse's parents and consider our next steps in order to secure justice for Pearse Jordan's family."