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18 October 2001 Edition

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Witnesses describe cold-blooded killings

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry


BY FERN LANE


A witness has told the Bloody Sunday inquiry how he watched as one of the victims, Jim Wray, was killed as he lay injured on the ground. Malachy Coyle told the tribunal that Wray called out to him, saying that he could not move his legs. Coyle answered him, telling the injured man to lie still and pretend to be dead. As he did so, he heard a shot and saw sparks fly off the pavement underneath Wray, who was killed where he lay.

Mr Coyle, who was 16 at the time told the inquiry that he had watched events through the slats of a fence in back yard of a nearby house, together with another witness, John McCourt. He said that he thought Wray had been first been hit in the spine, an observation confirmed by the autopsy report on Wray which showed that he had been shot twice, with one bullet damaging a vertebrae.

Coyle said that Wray had looked at him and John McCourt through the slats, saying, "I can't move my legs, I can't move my legs.

"Mr McCourt says, 'be quiet, lie down`. At that stage I got feared for him and I says, 'pretend you`re dead' or, 'lie down'. Then just underneath his chest bits of concrete just exploded... He let out a groan and his head went down slowly onto the pavement. He did not move after that."

Coyle also said that one of the British soldiers at the scene stood out from the others because he was running about without a helmet, had his sleeves rolled up and was shouting abuse. "The others didn`t have the same menacing presence as this boy" he said. "This boy was really scary."

Another witness, SLDP councillor, Sean Carr, told the inquiry that he had seen a soldier shoot a man who had his hands in the air. Mr Carr, who is now a member of Derry City Council, was 13 on Bloody Sunday. He described how people had run through the entry linking Glenfada Park North and Abbey North as a soldier appeared in the entry.

"As the man put his hands up and looked at the soldier, the soldier put his rifle to his right shoulder and shot the man," he said. "The man fell to his right and then onto his side and rolled onto his back. He fell in the position where he was standing.

"From the window I could see that he blessed himself with his right hand across the centre of his face. I could not believe what I had seen. There was absolutely no reason for it. The man had been doing nothing and had his hands clearly up in the air."

The tribunal has also heard how one soldier, referred to only as Soldier 104, perjured himself during the original inquiry, saying that Joe Friel, who was wounded on Bloody Sunday, admitted having a gun when he was shot that day. This claim has been vehemently denied by Friel.

The same soldier further perjured himself when he gave evidence to the resident magistrate in 1972 against 15-year-old Martin Gallagher. Soldier 104 claimed that he had seen Gallagher throwing stones on Barrack Street. However, Gallagher said that he "had been nowhere near Barrack Street all afternoon. The soldiers were lying. As far as I was concerned the court agreed with me because the charge was dropped and I was free to go."

Gallagher, who presented his written statement to the inquiry, described how he was arrested and taken to a detention centre, where 104 told him to "shut up" or he would be thrown "in to the Orangemen".

Sir Allan Green QC, legal representative for Soldier 104, told the inquiry that his client had "no recollection whatsoever" of the incident.

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