Frances Bradley

Francis Bradley (20) was shot dead at a farm on the Hillhead Road near Toome in 1986

The inquest into the death of a 20-year-old man shot dead by the British Army on February 18 1986 near Toomebridge heard that there were allegations that the deceased had been told by RUC men he would not live to see his 21st birthday.

Francis Bradley (20) was shot dead at a farm on the Hillhead Road near Toome by soldiers only identified as Soldier A and Soldier C.

The inquest is the second one into the death after the then Attorney General John Larkin ordered a new inquiry in 2010.

Opening the inquest at Derry’s Bishop Street courthouse Martin O’Rourke KC counsel to the Coroner Peter Irvine KC outlined the circumstances around the killing.

He said the last civilian to see Francis Bradley alive was now deceased but told the original inquest that he had gone with the deceased to play cards and after alighting from a car he walked towards the house and the deceased walked towards a shed when there was a burst ‘of heavy gunfire’.

This witness said he then heard someone shout ‘we’ve got one of the b—–s’.

Mr O’Rourke told the hearing that statements from the soldiers involved were taken in the days following the shooting.

Soldier A said he was on patrol in a civilian vehicle and had back up by another civilian vehicle.

He said as a result of intelligence received a group of soldiers had taken up position around a farmhouse.

The court heard that the soldier claimed he saw a young man entered a gap, looked around then bent down and stood up again with a rifle in his hand.

Soldier A said he fired one shot believing this man posed a threat to him.

The soldier said he heard a second burst of firing from another soldier.

A statement from Soldier C also given to the original inquest said he saw the man picking up a rifle and he then opened fire believing the man ‘was going to get up and engage us.’

He said he fired another burst of shots ‘instinctively’ when he thought he saw movement from the shot man.

In total Soldier C fired a total of 20 shots and Soldier A one shot.

Mr O’Rourke said an RUC Inspector gave evidence that two rifles were found beside the dead man and he was wearing gloves at the time.

The court heard that police believed Francis Bradley was ‘an important member of the Provisional IRA’.

A report from a Pathologist found that the deceased was shot 8 times with one of the wounds being consistent with him being while on his knees.

Other wounds were consistent with him being shot while lying on his back.

The court heard that the dead man had been arrested on three occasions and it was alleged that on one occasion in Gough Barracks he was told he would not see his 21st birthday.

The hearing continues.

Derry Now