Second inquest into SAS shooting death set to be heard next April

Francis Bradley was shot dead by soldiers in disputed circumstances near Toomebridge in 1986

A second inquest into the death of a man shot by the SAS is set to be heard next April, 13 years after the fresh probe was ordered.

Coroner Peter Irvine said he intends to get the inquest for Francis Bradley “up and running as soon as possible”.

Mr Bradley, 20, was shot dead by soldiers in disputed circumstances near Toomebridge, Co Londonderry, in 1986.

At the time of the killing, the IRA said Mr Bradley was not a member. However, his name was later added to the organisation’s “roll of honour”.

The family of the Co Derry man have welcomed the development in the long-running case.

In 2010, then attorney general John Larkin ordered a fresh inquest into the controversial killing.

Mr Irvine, who is also a judge, told a preliminary hearing in Belfast on Thursday that he wants legal parties to work towards a “target date” for starting the inquest on Monday April 24 next year.

“Everything is going to revolve around that particular date with the management of this particular inquest,” he said.

He added that it is important that outstanding preparatory work for the probe, such as the process of security vetting and disclosing sensitive state files, is done “appropriately and in time”.

Karen Quinlivan KC, representing the Bradley family, said they had been waiting a long time for the inquest to begin.

“They are very anxious that the matter moves forward,” she said.

Joanne Hannigan KC, representing the PSNI and MoD, sounded a note of caution on the proposed timetable, as she highlighted the “substantial” number of legacy inquests already set to be heard in the first half of next year.

She said she wanted to make the court aware that preparatory work for those probes was creating “significant resource pressures”.

The coroner asked to be updated on progress on the outstanding preparatory work at another preliminary hearing on November 15.

After Thursday’s hearing, the family of Mr Bradley welcomed the move to set an inquest date.

The family’s solicitor, Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane, said: “This was the very first inquest to be ordered by the Attorney General for NI in May 2010.

“The family have waited a very long time for a substantive hearing to be fixed and they are pleased that matters are now moving in the right direction.”

Belfast Telegraph