The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has announced that a former British soldier is to face prosecution over the killing of a 15-year-old boy during one of its largest ever mobilisations.

In a reverse of a decision not to prosecute a man known only as Soldier B taken in 2016, the PPS this afternoon said it will now charge the ex-soldier with the murder of Daniel Hegarty.

The Creggan teenager was shot dead in the early hours of Operation Motorman on July 31, 1972.

In March 2016 the PPS confirmed that after a review of evidence that they’d decided not to prosecute the soldier responsible for Daniel Hegarty’s death.

At around 4.15am on the morning of July 31,1972 the 15-year-old was shot and killed by a British soldier as Operation Motorman got underway.

Daniel’s cousin, 17-year-old Christopher Hegarty, was also wounded by the same soldier but survived. The PPS has also announced that Soldier B will also be charged with wounding Christopher with intent.

During the same operation 19-year-old IRA member Seamus Bradley was also killed in highly disputed circumstances.

After a private meeting today with members of the Hegarty family to inform them of the decision, Stephen Herron, the Director of Public Prosecutions said: “Following the ruling of the Divisional Court last year I conducted a review of this case.

“I have given careful consideration to all of the available evidence. This has included material obtained in the course of the initial investigation; by a later investigation carried out by the Historical Enquiries Team; material generated by Inquest proceedings and a number of expert forensic reports, the most recent of which was provided after the Court ruling in 2018.

“I have concluded that the evidence which can be presented at court is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction and that the Evidential Test for Prosecution is met.

“As with all cases, I have also carefully considered whether the public interest requires prosecution through the courts. Particular consideration was given to Soldier B’s ill health, regarding which an updated medical report was obtained. In line with our Code for Prosecutors, I have concluded, given the seriousness of the charges, that the Public Interest Test for Prosecution is also met.

“I have therefore taken the decision to prosecute an individual identified as Soldier B for the offence of murder in relation to the death of Daniel Hegarty and for the wounding of Christopher Hegarty.

“This decision has been reached following an objective and impartial application of the Test for Prosecution which was conducted in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors and with the benefit of advice from Senior Counsel.”

Decisions not to prosecute were taken in 1973 and in 2008 following a review of the case by the Historical Enquiries Team. The application for prosecution was again knocked back in 2016, but that decision was quashed by the Divisional Court in 2018.

CAPTION: 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty was killed during Operation Motorman on July 31, 1972. The soldier responsible for the shooting is to face a murder charge and a charge of wounding with intent in relation to Christopher Hegarty.

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