Eamon Sweeney writes that:
The good name of a teenage victim of the state was officially restored this week almost 45 years after his life was taken by a British Army bullet.
Manus Deery was just 15 when he was struck in the head by a round discharged by deceased British soldier, Private William Glasgow from Derry’s walls on the evening on May 19, 1972.
The first inquest into the killing in 1973 returned an open verdict meaning that for over four decades the smear that he was a republican gunman was placed against his name and that of his families.
However, at Derry’s courthouse yesterday the final verdict of a fresh inquest held last year into the incident, finally and decisively cleared the young victims name. The decision, delivered by the Presiding Coroner overseeing conflict legacy cases in Northern Ireland, Lord Justice Adrian Colton, totally absolved Manus Deery of being involved in any illegal activity on the night in question.
In summarising the evidence given by all sides at last year’s inquest, Mr Colton concluded that:
Neither Manus or anyone close to him was acting in a manner that could have been reasonably perceived as posing a threat of death or injury to Private Glasgow or any other person. There was no gunman in the vicinity of the archway or tunnel in the Meenan Square area of the Bogside, but Manus and his friends were present in the Archway and should have been visible to Private Glasgow at the relevant time.
Lord Justice Colton also concluded:
Even if Private Glasgow had an honest belief that there was a gunman present, the force used was disproportionate to the threat perceived and therefore more than was absolutely necessary in the circumstances.
Furthermore, Mr Colton concluded that the soldier who fired the fatal round into the Bogside did not abide by the British Army’s rules of engagement known as the ‘Yellow Card’ and that because of this he “was not justified in opening fire” and that the subsequent RUC investigation into the shooting was “flawed and inadequate.”