Soldier’s death linked to war crime 40 years earlier
Soldier’s death linked to war crime 40 years earlier


A coroner has been given a letter revealing new evidence about a ‘psychopathic’ British soldier who was linked to the murder of a west Belfast teenager and also plotting to assassinate Gerry Adams.

Corporal John Ross MacKay, who was a member of the Black Watch regiment, has been accused of killing 17-year-old Leo Norney (pictured) in September 1975. The former soldier died suddenly in Scotland on the 40th anniversary of the teenager’s death last September.

Fresh allegations about the Norney case are contained in a letter sent recently to Belfast-based lawyer Fearghal Shiels. It has since been passed on to a coroner overseeing a new inquest into the teenager’s death which was ordered in 2014. The original inquest held in 1976 returned an open verdict.

Written by a man who claims he is a former member of MacKay’s regiment, the letter alleges that his “psychopathic behaviour was well known in the Black Watch”. The writer adds that a “drunken psychopath with a loaded weapon is not a good mix on the streets of Belfast”. He also claims that MacKay was a “keen Orangeman” and sported a ‘King Billy tattoo” and was “befriended” by members of the RUC.

Although it is not known how he died, the letter claims he was a “broken man... haunted by the memory of what he did taking comfort in drink and drugs, he lost everything”.

Mr Norney was shot dead at Ardmonagh Gardens in Turf Lodge minutes after getting out of a taxi and being stopped and questioned by members of the Black Watch. The British army falsely claimed he was one of two gunmen who opened fire on them, but an RUC member admitted at the inquest there was no evidence he was a member of an armed group, and a court later heard he was an innocent victim.

After the shooting the teenager’s body was taken to Springfield Road barracks instead of the morgue where the bones in his hands are believed to have been shattered. It was thought the injuries may have been caused by soldiers attempting to transfer gun residue onto his hands.

The victim’s home was also raided the day after the shooting by British soldiers who failed to tell his mother her son had been killed.

After the Norney shooting, MacKay was is believed to have been involved in a plot to kill Gerry Adams. The letter-writer claims that McKay was given a sawn-off shotgun by RUC members and told to plant it on the senior republican after he shot him. Subsequently, MacKay was one of five British soldiers convicted in 1977 of planting ammunition in cars owned by innocent civilians.

Mr Shiels said MacKay refused to engage with a police Historical Enquiries Team investigation, describing him as a “most reluctant witness”.

He added: “We have asked that the coroner makes appropriate enquiries with the Procurator Fiscal’s office in Scotland to establish if there is any evidence that his involvement in Leo’s murder and the decision to order a new inquest in any way contributed to him perhaps taking his own life, or whether his death merely occurred naturally, 40 years to the day since he shot Leo.”

Urgent Appeal

Despite increasing support for Irish freedom and unity, we need your help to overcome British and unionist intransigence. We can end the denial of our rights in relation to Brexit, the Irish language, a border poll and legacy issues, with your support.

Please support IRN now to help us continue reporting and campaigning for our national rights. Even one pound a month can make a big difference for us.

Your contribution can be made with a credit or debit card by clicking below. A continuing monthly donation of £2 or more will give you full access to this site. Thank you. Go raibh míle maith agat.

© 2016 Irish Republican News