Judges uphold coroner’s refusal to say how Pearse Jordan died

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The mother of an IRA Volunteer shot dead by the RUC has failed in a new legal bid to have the inquest verdict quashed.

Teresa Jordan argued the coroner was wrong in finding it impossible to determine with certainty what happened when her son Pearse was shot dead by a member of the RUC 26 years ago.

But judges in the Court of Appeal rejected arguments that a failure to decide on central issues surrounding the lawfulness of the killing in west Belfast amounted to an abdication of responsibility.

The ruling represents a further blow for the family’s attempts to secure another examination into the circumstances surrounding the death of their son.

Pearse Jordan’s death in November 1992 was one of several high-profile cases involving alleged RUC shoot-to-kill. The 22-year-old had been driving a hijacked car when he was stopped by the RUC in west Belfast. He was shot in the back after getting out on the Falls Road and trying to run away, unarmed.

In November 2016 the coroner overseeing a fresh inquest into the death said he was not convinced by RUC claims that Pearse’s killer acted in self-defence, but did not accept that the gunman acted in cold blood either.

Mrs Jordan’s lawyers claimed the disputed issues of fact should have been resolved by the evidence. Ballistic evidence was disregarded without evaluation or explanation, along with a failure to apply the standard of proof to issues in the case.

Mrs Jordan was seeking a declaration that the inquest was unfair, unlawful and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Her lawyers insisted there had been a legal obligation on the coroner to make every effort to arrive at a conclusion. They submitted that the reasons given by the coroner for his failure to do so were insufficient.

Dismissing the case, Justice Stephens said: “We consider that there is no arguable case that he abdicated his duty in the conduct of this inquest.”

Outside court, Mrs Jordan’s lawyer did not rule out mounting a further challenge.

Fearghal Shiels, of Madden & Finucane, said: “Notwithstanding that the coroner had found that the officer who shot Pearse Jordan in the back had failed to prove on the balance of probabilities that the shooting was justified, we are disappointed that other central questions relevant to the circumstances of Pearse’s death remain unexplained.

“We will consider the Court of Appeal’s decision carefully with the family before deciding on a further appeal.”

Sinn Fein’s Pat Sheehan has said he was disappointed the legal bid had been rejected.

“The Jordan family has been engaged in a long struggle for truth and justice and have been frustrated by continuous obstacles put in place by the RUC and PSNI as police officers lied, key evidence was tampered with and they failed to provide a convincing explanation for the shooting,” he said.

“It is clear that the RUC were in breach of Article 2 insofar as they were unable to justify the use of lethal force.”

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