New hopes for victims of state killings
New hopes for victims of state killings


A new inquest has been ordered into the killing of a mother-of-six shot dead in Derry by the British army in 1971.

The new inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Kathleen Thompson.

Mrs Thompson was shot in the back garden of her home in the city’s Creggan during an arrest and internment operation involving 200 British soldiers.

The British claimed the Derry woman was shot by a soldier responding to gunfire as they left the area. However, witnesses have always said there were no other shots fired.

In a letter to the Thompson family lawyer earlier this month, the Six County attorney general ordered a new inquest on the grounds that Mrs Thompson’s death was not properly investigated.

He also said the original inquest did not provide a thorough enough examination of the issues.

Mr Larkin also concluded that the soldier, named only as ‘Soldier D’, could be compelled to give evidence.

Mrs Thompson’s son Erne welcomed news of the new inquest.

“This is official recognition at some level that a woman, a mother, cannot simply be shot dead in the garden of her own home,” he said.

Mr Thompson said the family would await the outcome of the inquest before deciding if they would take further action.

Mrs Thompson’s daughter Patricia Murphy said the inquest provided the State with a chance “to right the wrong done” in 1971.

“I would hope now they will see and do the proper investigation,” she said.

Another daughter, Minty Thompson, said she still has vivid memories of the night her mother was shot dead.

Just 12 years old at the time, she recalled seeing her mother lying in the back garden of her home.

“The next thing I remember was they brought her into the kitchen and somebody said she was dead and we didn’t know any more until the next day,” she said.

Mrs Thompson’s death on that day in November 1971 was not included in a British army daily record sheet which was sent to government officials.

In the months and years after her death, her family were subjected to abuse and jibes from British soldiers.

Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre -- which spearheaded the campaign for a new inquest -- said that as recently as 2001 the PSNI chief Ronnie Flanagan claimed Mrs Thompson’s death was properly investigated.

“The contempt with which the family have been treated over the years is exemplified by the compensation payment made years after the death. A cheque for 84 pounds seven pence was sent to Kathleen’s husband Patrick,” he said.


In a separate development, the PSNI police has also said it will look again at thirteen cold cases of British military killings in the north of Ireland following a scandal over the actions of its Historical Enquiries Team.

Earlier this summer, a review by the head British police inspectorate said cases where the state was involved in deaths were investigated with “less rigour” than others.

Amid an outcry by relatives of victims of British atrocities, it was announced that the head of the HET, Dave Cox, will stand down on 28 September.

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