Bloody Sunday families welcome Soldier F ruling saying prospect of trial 'closer'

Families said the ruling was a 'good day' for them and it brought the prospect of a trial much closer.
The Bloody Sunday families have welcomed the ruling saying it brings the prospect of a trial closer.

A judge has ruled hearsay evidence from some other soldiers can be admitted in trial of Soldier F.

The former Paratrooper is accused of murdering two men on Bloody Sunday.

Sitting at the Magistrates’ Court in Derry, District Judge Ted Magill said he was satisfied the statements could be dealt with in a “fair, just and reliable fashion” by the trial judge. He ruled that the evidence of a sixth witness was not to be admitted.

Outside the court, families of those killed and injured welcomed the ruling. They said it brought the prospect of a trial closer. Former paratrooper Soldier F is accused of the murders of James Wray and William McKinney in 1972 when members of the Parachute Regiment shot dead 13 civil rights protesters on the streets of the city.

James Wray and William McKinney Credit: Bloody Sunday Trust/PA

The judge’s ruling centred around an attempt by the Public Prosecution Service to use evidence statements given to the 1972 Widgery Report by other soldiers in the Bogside on the day.

The PPS previously called a halt to the prosecution of Soldier F in 2021, citing concerns the case could collapse if it went to trial. The decision to halt proceedings was challenged by Mr McKinney’s family and last year the Divisional Court of the High Court in Belfast overturned the PPS’s move. After reviewing its position, the PPS decided to resume the prosecution.

Following Friday's hearing, solicitors Madden and Finucane, who represent some of the victims, said in a statement: "We welcome the decision of District Judge Magill to admit into evidence the statements of five former paratroopers.

"Each of these witnesses provides significant evidence of Soldier F being present in Glenfada Park firing his weapon.

"We look forward now with renewed confidence to Soldier F being formally returned to stand trial for murder and attempted murder as expeditiously as possible” Bloody Sunday was one of the darkest days in the history of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Thirteen people were killed on the day and another man shot by paratroopers died four months later. Many consider him the 14th victim of Bloody Sunday but his death was formally attributed to an inoperable brain tumour.

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