New evidence ties British regiment to death of schoolgirl

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Fresh evidence has been uncovered which proves the British Army was active in an area of west Belfast where a 13-year-old girl was shot and killed during the conflict.

Martha Campbell, who was a student at St Louise’s College, was walking with a friend in the Springhill Crescent area on the evening of May 14, 1972, when she was shot and fatally wounded.

No organisation has ever admitted responsibility for the killing, while the British Army always denied being in the area at the time.

Martha’s family has spent the last almost 50 years searching for answers about her killing, aided by the charity Paper Trail, which carries out specialised and targeted legacy archive research.

On the 49th anniversary of Martha’s death, Paper Trail says it has uncovered evidence which shows the British Army was in the area at the time and that the unit was involved in firing 23 shots.

Files unearthed through Freedom of Information requests feature notes written by British army personnel just hours after the shooting.

Previous evidence showed that members of the King’s Regiment had reported that one child civilian had been killed in the area of Springhill Crescent, but not by the Crown Forces, at 8.30pm on May 14.

However according to Paper Trail new evidence has come to light from additional records and radio logs which show that the same unit fired 23 shots in the area between 8.30pm and 8.50pm on that same night.

It was also noted that the British army did not record any other gun attacks in the area at the time, except by its own soldiers.

Ciarán MacAirt, project manager at Paper Trail, said: “Martha’s killers have yet to acknowledge that they shot her dead - never mind face justice in court.

“The family’s new report features previously unpublished evidence which may tell us why this is the case - the British army files prove that British soldiers were the only gunmen shooting in the area,” he said.

“This new evidence was either missed by historic investigators or buried by them. It is a testimony to her family’s love for Martha that they fought against this for nearly half a century.”

Relatives of Martha Campbell described the evidence uncovered in relation to her killing as “damning”.

Tony Campbell, who was 14 when his sister was shot dead, said his family’s goal had always been to uncover the truth about what happened.

The father-of-four, who now lives in County Armagh, said the new evidence “must be considered by the attorney general to grant a new inquest” into Martha’s death.

“How many more years must pass before we get truth and justice. The Campbell family deserves closure so that we can finally let Martha rest in peace.”

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