Northern Ireland Attorney General , John F. Larkin QC, has directed that a new inquest be held into the death of a Derry man shot dead by the SAS in 1984.
Creggan man Danny Doherty, 23, was shot dead by members of the SAS in the grounds of Gransha Hospital in Derry on 6 December 1984, along with Waterside man, William Fleming.
The father of one, who was a member of the IRA, was riding a motorcycle which was rammed by undercover soldiers. A total of 59 shots were fired at the two men and Danny Doherty was struck 19 times. Forensic evidence suggests that six shots were fired into his body as he lay wounded on the ground. Both men also received gunshot wounds to the head, despite the fact they were wearing crash helmets.
Madden & Finucane Solicitors brought successful judicial review challenges on behalf of the Doherty family in 2007 in which it became known that the RUC withheld significant documents from the Coroner conducting the inquests. This was in clear breach of its statutory obligations to provide the Coroner with all written documents in their possession.
The withheld documents included potentially crucial eye witness accounts, intelligence reports, army log sheets and in the case of Danny Doherty, details of the Royal Military Police investigations.
As a result of a change in the rules governing inquests, the soldiers responsible for shooting Danny Doherty must now give evidence at the inquest.
Fearghal Shiels, of Madden & Finucane Solicitors welcomed the Attorney General’s decisions saying: “The RUC showed a blatant disregard for its statutory obligations in terms of the documents it should have provided to the Coroner for the original inquests. This formed the basis of the applications to the Attorney General to order new inquests.
Must now attend
“The soldiers who shot Danny Doherty evaded giving evidence at the first inquest held in 1986. They must now attend to give evidence and somehow explain why nineteen shots were fired at him, mostly from behind when he posed no threat, and again whilst he lay mortally wounded on the ground.
“They must further explain how he sustained a gunshot wound to the head in circumstances where he wore a crash helmet. Their self-serving accounts were not probed or tested sufficiently by the RUC and they will now be subject to cross examination by the legal representatives for the family.”
Danny Doherty’s widow Julie said: “I am happy with the Attorney General’s direction. The State has to be held accountable for their actions.”