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Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest British soldiers ‘behaved like animals’ on Belfast's streets, victim's brother tells court

BRITISH soliders were accused of “behaving like animals” and creating a climate of fear on the streets of Belfast by the brother of a man shot dead during the Ballymurphy Massacre nearly 50 years ago.

The inquest was hearing evidence into the deaths of John Laverty and Joseph Corr, killed by British Paratroopers on August 11, 1971.

Mr Laverty’s brother, Terrence Laverty, was excused from the court hearing on medical grounds and a statement was read out on his behalf. 

He described the atmosphere in the Ballymurphy area following the introduction of internment without trial as feeling like the community was under siege.

British soldiers patrolled the streets as part of Operation Demetrius, rounding up suspects and creating “a climate of fear.”

He said “The Parachute Regiment behaved like animals. It was absolutely terrifying. We were civilians being treated like enemy combatants.”

Mr Laverty was on the streets of Ballymurphy when he said the two soldiers known as M167 and M351 “grabbed me from my left-hand side and forced me onto my knees.”

They punched him while shouting “Irish fucking bastard.”

“I was punched that often that I lost count. I was totally scared out of my wits,” his statement said.

M167 told Mr Laverty: “If any of our men get shot you’re dead, you Irish bastard” as he marched him towards St Aidan’s school. The soldier then said: “Fuck it, I’ve already shot one Irish bastard dead, another won’t matter.”

M167 then put the barrel of the rifle to Mr Laverty’s head and “squeezed the trigger.” He though he was going to die and said a prayer, however M167 had removed the magazine from his weapon.

After being handed over to other soldiers he was handcuffed to railings along with a group of other men. They were all subjected to constant beatings and Mr Laverty was forced to run over broken glass.

“I was treated as less than human” he said.

He was bailed after being charged with rioting and fined £700. Later he was sentenced to six-months in prison based on the evidence of M167.

His conviction was quashed in 2015 after the evidence used to convict him was retracted by M167.

The inquest is examining the deaths of 10 people shot dead by British soldiers in a three-day killing spree in August 1971.

A preliminary hearing is expected next month and the inquest will resume on September 2.

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