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11 Aug 2022

Killing of Derry mother by British soldier 'not justified,' rules coroner

Call for case Kathleen Thompson to be referred to Public Prosecution Service

Kathleen Thompson

The killing of Kathleen Thompson was unjustified, a coroner has ruled.

A coroner has ruled that the shooting of mother of six Kathleen Thompson in Derry over 50 years ago by a British soldier was 'not justified.'

Judge Sandra Crawford was giving her judgement at the end of the second inquest into the death of Mrs Thompson on the night of November 5 and 6, 1971.

She ruled that the fatal shots were fired by Soldier D from Southway as the British Army withdrew following an arrest operation.

The coroner said Mrs Thompson had gone to the rear of her home at 129 Rathlin Drive in the Creggan area and was banging a bin lid or another object on the ground to warn people of the army's presence when she was shot.

The inquest heard that ballistic experts could not rule out that the bullet that killed the Derry mother had been fired from an SLR rifle like those used by the British Army.

Judge Crawford said that Soldier D had claimed he had fired after he was fired upon and was thus acting to protect himself and his colleagues.

But the judge said : "I cannot be satisfied that Soldier D held an honest belief he was under fire."

She said his evidence to the inquest was a  'contrived and self serving account.'

Judge Crawford said even taking into account the atmosphere Soldier D found himself in and the fact that he may have been 'frightened' he had 'over-reacted.'

She added that Soldier D could not have seen Mrs Thompson when he fired but his firing was in breach of the 'Yellow Card' guidelines.

The coroner said Soldier D had used a level of force that was not justified and that he was not under any real threat and did not believe he was under that level of threat.

Judge Crawford also said there had been no attempt to obstruct or mislead the inquest and while 'several witnesses were reluctant' to give evidence this was not obstructive.

Following the verdict, Karen Quinlivan QC for the Thompson family, said that it was normal procedure that the case now be referred to the Public Prosecution Service.

A coroner has ruled that the shooting of mother of six Kathleen Thompson in Derry over 50 years ago by a British soldier was 'not justified.'

Judge Sandra Crawford was giving her judgement into the second inquest into the death of Mrs Thompson on the night of November 5 and 6, 1971.

She ruled that the fatal shots were fired by Soldier D from Southway as the British Army withdrew following an arrest operation.

The coroner said Mrs Thompson had gone to the rear of her home at 129 Rathlin Drive and was banging a bin lid or another object on the ground to warn people of the army's presence when she was shot.

The inquest heard that ballistic experts could not rule out that the bullet that killed the Derry mother had been fired from an SLR rifle like those used by the British Army.

Judge Crawford said that Soldier D had claimed he had fired after he was fired upon and was thus acting to protect himself and his colleagues.

But the judge said : "I cannot be satisfied that Soldier D held an honest belief he was under fire."

She said his evidence to the inquest was a  'contrived and self serving account.'

Judge Crawford said even taking into account the atmosphere Soldier D found himself in and the fact that he may have been 'frightened' he had 'over-reacted.'

She added that Soldier D could not have seen Mrs Thompson when he fired but his firing was in breach of the 'Yellow Card' guidelines.

The coroner said Soldier D had used a level of force that was not justified and that he was not under any real threat and did not believe he was under that level of threat.

Judge Crawford also said there had been no attempt to obstruct or mislead the inquest and while 'several witnesses were reluctant' to give evidence this was not obstructive.

Following the verdict, Karen Quinlivan QC for the Thompson family, said that it was normal procedure that the case now be referred to the Public Prosecution Service.

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