Evidence against Soldier F over Bloody Sunday murders to be heard in January

The committal hearing will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to a Crown Court trial.
Evidence against Soldier F over Bloody Sunday murders to be heard in January

By Rebecca Black and David Young, PA

Evidence against a British military veteran accused of two murders on Bloody Sunday is set to be heard in court in January.

The committal hearing before a district judge will determine whether there is sufficient evidence against Soldier F to proceed to a Crown Court trial.

The proceedings are due to last a number of weeks across January and February, but will not sit on the anniversary of the killings in Derry on January 30th.

The former paratrooper 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 Derry.

Bloody Sunday
James Wray and William McKinney. Photo: Bloody Sunday Trust/PA

The Public Prosecution Service previously called a halt to the prosecution citing concerns that the case could collapse if it proceeded to trial.

The prosecution was still in the magistrates’ court system at that point, with lawyers preparing for the committal hearing to determine whether it would proceed to Crown Court.

The decision to halt proceedings was challenged by the family of Mr McKinney and earlier this year the Divisional Court of the High Court in Belfast overturned the PPS move.

Earlier this month, the court rejected the PPS bid to have an appeal referred to the UK Supreme Court.

After reviewing its position, the PPS decided to resume the prosecution.

The case was mentioned briefly at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning.

A prosecution barrister outlined a number of dates in January suitable to all parties, adding “the earlier the better”.

District Judge Peter Magill said he did not want to hear the case on the anniversary of the shootings on January 30th.

 

“We want to proceed with expedition but also there are incredible sensitivities involved, and also I believe that it would be particularly difficult for those who no doubt will wish to commemorate the day or attend commemorations or simply use the day for reflection, but at the same time would want to be present for any court appearances,” he said.

“We will reconvene to start hearing evidence on January 16th.

“I intend to hit the ground running on January 16th so I want all disclosure issues to have been fully addressed, and if there is any difficulty, get it before me.”

The judge said he had intended to take annual leave in January, but will change that adding: “This case takes precedence.”

The case is to be mentioned again at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on November 11th.

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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