Irish Republican News · October 19, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Killer soldier’s lies exposed

A British soldier who served less than a year in jail over shooting a woman should have been charged with her murder, the Historical Enquiries Team has found.

However, the family of the victim say the report into her death by the police team has left unanswered questions.

Bernadette Friel was shot and fatally wounded in a house in Derry’s Carnhill area on October 19 1975 and died two days later. Following her death, former British soldier, Thomas Ramsay claimed she had been playing ‘Russian roulette’ when she was shot in the head.

But the HET yesterday dismissed Ramsay’s claim, finding that he had lied about the shooting, and that he had deliberately shot her.

Ms Friel’s family yesterday welcomed the HET findings. Family spokesman, Leo Friel said that while the lie that his sister had been killed while playing Russian Roulette had been refuted, other questions remained unanswered.

Ms Friel, who had a four-year-old son, was involved in a verbal altercation with Ramsay on the day of her death.

Witnesses in the house said she ran upstairs, followed by Ramsay and that a shot was heard almost immediately afterwards.

In a follow-up search, a large arsenal of firearms was discovered in the house.

Investigating initially demanded that Ramsay and his brother-in-law, Hugh Stanley be charged with murder, but the Director of Public Prosecutions rejected this and Ramsay was charged with manslaughter.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in prison. Stanley received a two-year conditional discharge on firearm offences.

Mr Friel said: “Our whole family’s grief at her loss was made much worse by the fact that Thomas Ramsay and Hugh Stanley’s final version of what happened was a concocted story that she had been involved in a game of Russian Roulette, despite the pathologist’s clear findings that the position of the wound and the direction of travel of the bullet completely excluded any possibility that Bernadette could have shot herself.”

It also emerged that Ramsay was allowed to travel in the ambulance taking Ms Friel to hospital. He was then held by the British army for almost four hours before he was handed over to police.

“Although Bernadette hasn’t got justice we know the HET has gone as far as they can with this report,” Mr Friel said.

Maggie O’Conor of the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), who worked on the case with the Friel family, said that for many years the family had yearned for the truth.

“Today we are setting the record straight,” she said.

“While the family and the PFC are satisfied that the HET has gone as far as they can in this report there are still clearly questions about why the investigation, charges and sentencing did not lead to justice for Bernadette.”

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2010 Irish Republican News