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FAMILIES at the Ballymurphy inquest heard the harrowing details of how their loved ones were killed by British soldiers as pathologists gave evidence at the Belfast hearing today.
The court was examining the deaths of Father Hugh Mullan, Francis Quinn, Noel Phillips, Danny Teggart and Joan Connolly, who were among 10 people shot dead as paratroopers went on a three-day killing spree in West Belfast in August 1971.
Relatives described feeling nervous ahead of today’s hearing, with statements from military and civilian experts read out in the courtroom.
Ms Connolly, a mother of eight, was fit and healthy, the court heard, and had no alcohol in her system. She was shot in her right thigh and was also shot in her hand.
Her grandson David Voyle said: “I believe Granny was covering her face stopping a second face shot.”
The barrister for Ms Connolly asked the pathologist: “In your expert opinion does any evidence point to Mrs Joan Connolly holding a gun?”
“No,” he answered.
She was left alone in a field for hours after being shot several times in the face by British soldiers who, the inquest heard in a previous session, had threatened her.
Fr Mullan was shot dead while giving the last rites to a dying man. Previously the court heard how the priest screamed out after being shot by British soldiers and was heard praying in Latin as he lay dying.
He was killed by “high-calibre ballistics,” along with 19-year-old Mr Phillips, Mr Teggart, 44, and Mr Quinn, who was also 19.
Yesterday’s inquest heard how the British forces included “psychopaths” who had only avoided prison by joining the army.
A witness known by the code name M597 said: “Rogue soldiers were out of control, killing people on the street and knowing that they would be protected.”
He said they had celebrated the Ballymurphy killings with a culture of bravado ingrained among the squaddies, who praised him for having “a notch on the rifle.”
According to M597: “They [soldiers] were saying: ‘Anything out there that moves, we consider them to be in the IRA or associated with the IRA,’ and for that alone they could be or should be shot.”
Last week the court heard a gruesome account from former soldier Harry Gow, who explained that part of the skull of Henry Thornton, who was shot dead by paratroopers, had subsequently been used as an ashtray by squaddies.
The inquest continues.
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