The family of a Derry teenager killed by the British army in 1972 have rejected the findings of a police Historical Enquiries Team (HET) investigation into his death.
Fifteen-year-old Manus Deery was shot dead from Derry’s walls on the evening of Friday May 19 1972. The teenager was on his way to his Bogside home when he was killed by the fragments of a British army bullet.
While the HET found he was completely innocent and not involved in any subversive activity, it exonerated the soldier who fired the fatal shot.
The teenager’s family have rejected claims that the soldier had been aiming at a “gunman” and not the 15-year-old. Paddy McDermott, solicitor for the Deery family, said he had written to the Six County coroner John Leckey requesting a new inquest.
At a press conference this week, the teenager’s sister Helen Deery said the HET conclusion that a gunman had been the intended target was based on the 1972 testimony of the unidentified soldier, referred to as ‘Soldier A’. It was also based on a more recent statement given by his colleague, ‘Soldier B’.
Ms Deery said witnesses had testified in 1972 that no gunman had been present when her brother was shot. Four of the original witnesses gave fresh evidence to the HET corroborating their 1972 statements.
Ms Deery dismissed the HET report. “There is nothing in this which tells us anything. We always knew Manus was innocent -- that was never disputed,” she said. “There were six witnesses who gave statements. No-one saw any gunman.”
Ms Deery also questioned a claim that ‘Soldier A’ had died in April 2001. She said her brother had just started work before he was killed.
“There is not a day goes by that I don’t think about him,” she said. “He started work two weeks before and was working at French and Sons. He had his first wage packet and had bought chips that night.”
Irish journalist Kevin Myers was in the Bogside at the time. He did not witness the shooting but arrived at the scene within minutes, Ms Deery said.
“He did see Manus’s body with a bag of chips he was eating strewn about him,” she said. She said the HET had not bothered to interview Mr Myers.