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TWO brothers were dragged out of their beds and beaten by British soldiers after witnessing the killing of a man outside their front door, the Ballymurphy inquest has heard.
Robert and Bernard Doyle were 16 and 18 at the time of the west Belfast shootings in August 1971.
They gave evidence at the inquest examining the deaths of 10 people shot dead by British soldiers during a three-day killing spree following the introduction of internment without trial.
The court was told that the pair heard a man moaning outside their front door as he lay dying after being shot by British soldiers.
They said the man told them: “No — it’s too late, I’m dying,” urging the boys to go back inside.
They ran and hid under their beds and said that paratroopers kicked their door in, dragging them outside to be pinned against an armoured vehicle and badly beaten.
After being slammed face-down on the ground with a gun pressed to the back of their heads, they were forced to eat grass and walk across broken glass.
It is reported that the paras came back with buckets of water and cleaned the footpath to the house, due to the amount of blood they had produced.
The brothers then said they were loaded into a lorry with 20 others and taken to Girdwood Barracks in north Belfast.
They were beaten by soldiers on their way in, they told the inquiry, then made to sit on chairs facing a wall. They said they were beaten if they moved or slept.
Robert Doyle said he was held for two days, while Bernard was held for three.
Bernard Doyle was charged with rioting, however this was soon dropped. His injuries were so bad, the court heard today, that hospital staff asked if he had been run over by a bus.
Mr Doyle said he was unable to move for six months after the assault.
“I went out of my house to help the man — that seems to be a crime then. That’s the only crime I committed. I got beaten relentlessly, my lower back fractured. I thought I was going to die,” he told the court.
Today’s hearing also had testimony from Joseph Marley, who described how his mother was assaulted by British soldiers during the shootings.
“As a para was walking past she asked him what was going on. He hit her in the face with the rifle — shouting at her to get back in the house,” he said.
The inquest continues.
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