Former soldiers fail in bid to stop murder trial

Two former paratroopers who fired on Official IRA man Joe McCann in 1972 have failed in their bid to stop their trial for his murder.

Known only as Soldiers A and C, the soldiers who deny the murder had applied for their trial "to be stayed" on the grounds of delay and fairness.

However, Mr Justice Maguire on Thursday ruled that "the court is confident that the trial process should be able to deal effectively with the points raised" by their defence teams.

A date for the trial of Soldiers A and C, whose addresses have been given as Salisbury House in London, will be fixed by the Crown Court next month.

Mr McCann, a father of four from Belfast, was shot dead in Joy Street close to his Markets home on 15 April 1972.

No-one was prosecuted following a police investigation at the time.

In 2013, a report by the now-defunct Historical Enquiries Team concluded the killing wasn't justified and the Public Prosecution Service decided to prosecute the two surviving members of the patrol.

Outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr McCann's widow Anne, daughter Nuala and granddaughter Jodie welcomed Thursday's decision.

They said the past four decades had "been very emotional, hard and frustrating", but that they were "very happy with the result".

Their solicitor, Niall Murphy of KRW Law, added that following the eight-month long extensive application, the court had decided to dismiss it and the family were "looking forward to their day in court”.

He said they can't understand why the defendants would fear an independent examination of the facts" and that the family also "looked forward to a fair trial".