Frustrations voiced over Norney inquest delay

A coroner has spoken of his frustration at delays in providing information to the inquest of a teenager shot dead by the British army and has threatened to order senior officials before him.

Coroner Paddy McGurgan was speaking at a preliminary hearing into the death of Leo Norney in west Belfast in September 1975.

The 17-year-old was shot dead at Ardmonagh Gardens in Turf Lodge minutes after getting out of a taxi and being stopped and questioned by members of the Black Watch regiment in September 1975.

The British army later claimed he was one of two gunmen who opened fire on them, but a police officer told the inquest there was no evidence he was a member of a subversive organisation and a court later heard he was an innocent victim.

During yesterday’s hearing Fiona Doherty, a barrister for the teenager’s relatives, voiced concerns after a lawyer for the PSNI and MoD said he was unable to say when relevant information would be produced.

“In relation to the sensitive material are the PSNI seriously coming before this court for the third time saying that they cannot give a timescale?” she asked.

And Ms Doherty added: “I have to say it’s beyond frustrating that on each occasion either a date is given which isn’t then adhered to or no date can be given, As I say it’s beyond frustrating for then next of kin, they feel they are being messed about with in this way and you sir, more importantly, are being messed about with.”

The coroner said he shared the frustration of Ms Doherty and gave a four-week deadline to hand over the information.

The PSNI and MoD lawyer rejected the suggestion the court was being “messed around”.

Mr McGurgan said he didn’t understand how the MoD could not address the situation “as a matter of urgency”.

“I want it done and I will be wanting a very high ranking member of the Ministry of Defence to appear before me if it’s not done,” he said.

In 2016 a coroner was given a letter making new claims about a British soldier believed to have been responsible for shooting him.

Fresh claims about the case were contained in a letter sent to the Norney family solicitor Fearghál Shiels, of Madden and Finucane Solicitors.

The soldier suspected of killing the teenager was Corporal John Ross MacKay.

He died suddenly in Scotland on the 40th anniversary of the teenager’s death in 2015.

MacKay, who was 62, was also one of five British soldiers convicted in 1977 of planting ammunition in cars owned by innocent civilians.

Irish News