THE Court of Appeal has today quashed a decision not to prosecute a British soldier over the Troubles-era killing of a teenager in Derry.
Daniel Hegarty was 15 years old when he was shot twice in the head by a solider.
The man charged with his murder is referred to as ‘Soldier B’.
Daniel’s death occurred in the Creggan area on July 31, 1972 during Operation Motorman.
The British Army’s military operation was designed to reclaim areas in Northern Ireland deemed to be under republican paramilitary control.
His cousin Christopher Hegarty, who was 16 at the time, was wounded in the same incident, and Soldier B was also charged with wounding the teenager.
An inquest held in 2011 found Daniel had posed no threat to the soldiers and was shot without given any warning.
However, on July 2, 2021 the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced its decision to discontinue the prosecution of Soldier B claiming the impact of a recent court case of a similar nature where “evidence relied upon in the prosecution of two former soilders…was inadmissible because of the circumstances in which it was obtained”.
Today a Court of Appeal judge has overturned that decision, with Lord Justice Treacy claiming the decision had been made after scrutinising the details of the case.
Daniel’s sister Margaret Brady had put forward to appeal to have the ruling quashed.
Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP welcomed today’s decision, claiming it “opens the door for the Hegarty family to finally see justice done”.
“My thoughts today are with the family of Daniel Hegarty who have spent over 50 years fighting for truth and justice following his killing,” the Foyle MP said.
“I know how devastated they were by the decision not to prosecute, and I commend them for their refusal to give up and successfully challenging the PPS’ decision.”
He added: “This case again shows the futility of the British government’s Legacy Bill which seeks to close down prosecutions and routes to truth and justice for victims and their families.
“There can be no hiding place for those who carried out unspeakable crimes during our troubled past, whether they be state forces, paramiltaries or anyone else.
“I hope that this ruling from the Court of Appeal will now see the Hegarty family finally get their day in court and every effort should be made to progress this case as soon as possible.”