The man who shot Pearse Jordan dead has finally given evidence at his inquest, despite having previously refused to take part in proceedings for nearly a decade.
In court this week, the man referred to as ‘Sergeant A’, who now lives abroad, said that he had previously refused to attend inquest proceedings since 2004 because of fears that his identity would be revealed.
A number of RUC involved in the fatal shooting on the west Belfast man have been granted anonymity.
The court was told ‘Sergeant A’ joined the RUC in 1973 as a 23 year-old and was promoted to sergeant five years later.
In 1980 he joined the RUC’s Special Support Unit (SSU), an elite uniformed team which was trained by the SAS.
The SSU was controversially involved in a series of shoot-to-kill incidents in 1982, when six republicans were shot dead in three separate incidents in County Armagh.
The killings sparked outrage when it emerged that all six had been unarmed and that SSU officers - including ‘A’ - had made false statements to cover up what had really happened.
Following the scandal SSU was rebranded as Headquarters Mobile Support Unit (HMSU).
The court heard that ‘A’ had been the leader of an RUC sniper unit and had trained VIP bodyguards.
On 25 November 1992 ‘A’ had been the leader of a HSMU unit in west Belfast when it had a number of vehicles, including a red Ford Orion driven by Jordan, under surveillance.
His unit had been tasked to stop the Orion as it drove along the Falls Road under the pretence that its rear brake lights were not working.
‘A’ told the court that when his unit attempted to stop the car Jordan had sped off.
Seconds later Jordan got out of the car and tried to run away across the Falls Road. He fired five shots, hitting the three times. The young IRA Volunteer died a short time later.
‘A’ claimed that he’d shot Jordan when he turned as he was running away and he feared he was going to shoot him.
However forensic evidence later showed that Jordan was unarmed and - contrary to RUC claims - had his back to ‘A’ when he was shot.
When ‘A’ was asked by Mr MacDonald if HMSU units had been trained to shoot-to-kill rather than to shoot to try and disable a suspect, he said:
“Yes if you want to put it that way.”
Questioned if he had thrived on being involved in such situations during his career, he replied: “It was my job.”
Asked why he’d told an RUC doctor in 1995 that his job had been “great until the [1994 Provisional IRA] ceasefire”, he replied: “I don’t know, because it was.”
He also admitted to the doctor that he’d become “irritable” in his home life following his subsequent removal from operational duties.
He denied that he had been wrong to shoot an unarmed man.
“When he turned around I couldn’t see his hands and I thought my life was in danger.”
The court was told that ‘A’ had previously been involved in another shoot-to-kill incident 10 years before the Jordan shooting.
HMSU killers -- including ‘A’ -- had knowingly given false statements to cover up the true events of the deaths of INLA Volunteers Roddy Carroll and Seamus Grew.
“You were prepared to make false statements and tell whatever lies you were told to do so?” Mr MacDonald said.
“That’s correct,” ‘A’ replied. “That 1982 incident was a complete mistake. We were wrongly directed by senior officers who we thought knew better.”
Rejecting the allegation that ‘A’ and his HMSU colleagues had deliberately lied to cover-up the shooting of Pearse Jordan, he said:
“I was confident of my actions. I didn’t need to explain what my role or my actions were.”
The inquest is expected to conclude next week.