A British soldier known to have been involved in eight alleged ‘shoot-to-kill’ operations played a part in at least one other deadly ambush, an inquest heard yesterday.

Details emerged during a preliminary inquest hearing in Belfast into the deaths of three IRA men in Coagh, Co Tyrone in June 1991.

Lawrence McNally (38), Peter Ryan (37) and Tony Doris (21) died after the car they were travelling in was ambushed by the SAS.

The vehicle was reported to have been hit by up to 200 rounds.

It is believed the three IRA men were making their way to carry out an attack.

The Irish News revealed last month that a British army officer was involved in a string of alleged shoot-to-kill operations resulting in the deaths of 16 people between 1983 and 1991.

During yesterday’s hearing, it emerged that the officer – who had a command position in the Coagh ambush – was also involved in the SAS operation that resulted in the deaths of IRA men Dessie Grew (37) and Martin McCaughey (23) in October 1990 near Loughgall in Co Armagh.

The information was not disclosed during a 2012 inquest into their deaths.
Following the verdict of lawful killing returned by the inquest jury, Martin McCaughey’s sister launched a legal challenge to quash the ruling.

Central to it was a refusal by the Ministry of Defence to disclose information about the involvement of military witnesses in other ‘lethal force incidents’.

The case is due to be heard next year.

Solicitor Fearghal Shiels, of Madden and Finucane Solicitors, who also represents the McCaughey and Grew families as well as the daughter of Lawrence McNally, said disclosure is critical to the inquest process.

“The issue of non-disclosure in this case is much more fundamental, however, as it concerns the failure to disclose details of the involvement in other lethal force shootings by the soldiers who opened fire on Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew,” he said.

“What is more surprising, and what we say makes the coroner’s decision to defend these proceedings untenable, is that information concerning soldiers’ involvement in other lethal force incidents is now being routinely provided in other cases.”

It also emerged that a soldier who fired shots in the Coagh ambush, referred to only by the initial B in legal papers, was involved in a separate SAS operation near Strabane in Co Tyrone in November 1990 during which INLA man Alex Patterson was shot dead.

Barrister Karen Quinlivan said the same soldier was identified during the McCaughey and Grew inquest as soldier G and gave evidence that he did not fire his weapon.

A solicitor for the MoD said the document presented to the coroner was in “draft” form.

Coroner Jim Kitson also heard details of other undercover soldiers involved in the Coagh ambush.

It emerged that two soldiers were also involved in the Loughgall ambush during which eight IRA men and a civilian were shot dead by the SAS in May 1987.

One soldier was also involved in an undercover ambush that resulted in the deaths of four IRA men at Clonoe, near Coalisland, in February 1992.

The Irish News