Two inquests open into British ambushes
Two inquests open into British ambushes


An inquest has heard how a County Derry man shot dead by British soldiers was told by the RUC police he would not see his 21st birthday.

Francis Bradley (pictured, right) was killed in an ambush by SAS gunmen near Toome, County Antrim in February 1986 close to an arms cache. The 20 year-old had been a Provisional IRA Volunteer.

An inquest into his shooting, which opened in Derry on Monday, heard how Mr Bradley had told of being threatened by the RUC before he was shot dead.

His family believe he was the victim of the policy of ‘shoot-to-kill’, a strategy of murderous state ambushes against suspected republicans.

On Monday, 24 April, supporters of the family including a number of political representatives were present in court to witness the latest stage in the long standing justice campaign.

Among those who appeared at the inquest was a former girlfriend of Mr Bradley’s and whose statement was read to the court. In her evidence, Eilish McLaughlin said that before he was killed Mr Bradley had been regularly stopped and arrested several times by the RUC.

She revealed that Mr Bradley told how the RUC had threatened him.

“On the night that Francis was killed there were helicopters up in the area and my two sisters, who worked in the hotel in Toome, said police were stopping people in Toome,” she said.

“I heard late that night on the news that someone had been shot and I had a bad felling that it was Francis as he had told me the police told him he would not see 21.”

Ms McLaughlin’s sister Annette McVey also gave evidence that Mr Bradley had revealed to her that he had been told by the Crown police he “would not see 21”.

She added that Mr Bradley had said “he was frightened and scared for his life”.

Ms McVey also told the court that on the night Mr Bradley was killed “there were some strange things going on”, adding that “all the street lights in Toome stopped working and there was a heavy police presence in and around Toome”.

A deposition from Bernard McLarnon, the last civilian to see Mr Bradley alive, and who has since died, was read to the court.

Counsel for the coroner confirmed that in his deposition, submitted to an earlier inquest in 1987, Mr McLarnon said he “didn’t hear any shout at the time of the shooting save for a shout of ‘we’ve got one of the Bs’ immediately after the shooting”.


Meanwhile, the family of another man shot dead by soldiers in Derry have told an inquest they hope it will provide answers.

Patrick Duffy (pictured, left) was shot 14 times at a house in which IRA arms were hidden while his daughter and granddaughter sat in a car outside. He was unarmed at the time.

Mr Duffy’s sister Mary Lynch told the opening day of his inquest that she wants to get closure over what happened to him before she dies.

Three members of a special British military unit were lying in wait when the ambush was carried out at the house in Maureen Avenue in Derry in November 1978.

Leading human rights barrister Michael Mansfield KC is representing the family of the father-of-six.

Mr Duffy’s sister Mary Lynch told the court her brother was a “kind-hearted person” who loved animals.

She said: “Patrick had time for everyone. I am distressed that after all these years, with delays, nothing has been done about Patrick’s death.

“We have no closure and no-one from the British Army has ever been held to account for his murder.

“I would ask you to bring this to a close for the family and then my prayers will be answered before I die. I have not many years left as I am 78 years old.”

Mr Duffy’s daughter Martina Duffy described her father as her “best friend”.

She added: “My mother died on March 23 2004, she did not receive any answers about what had happened.

“We, as a family, would now like all these questions answered. It is my belief that it didn’t matter who was in the house.

“The house was under renovation, there would have been workers visiting the house. My father was not armed, it was overkill.

“To say I was broken-hearted the night my father was killed is an understatement, a part of me died with him.”

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