INQUEST: SAS deployed in the area up to two weeks prior to shooting of two Derry men

Danny Doherty and William Fleming

Report from the opening day of the inquest into the deaths of Danny Doherty and William Fleming, where Madden & Finucane represent the families of the deceased.

An inquest into the deaths of two Derry men shot dead by the SAS in the grounds of Gransha Hospital on December 6 1984 has been told that the ‘Specialist Military Unit’ may have been deployed in the area for up to two weeks prior to the shootings.

Daniel Doherty (23) a married man from Creggan and William Fleming (19) a single man from the Waterside died in the shooting at approximately 8am on December 6 1984.

The inquest heard from Fiona Doherty KC counsel for the Coroner that as a result of information available it was believed that the IRA were going to try and kill a part time member of the security forces who worked in Gransha.

She said that three soldiers known as A, B and C fired more than 60 shots during the incident and while there were no civilian witnesses to the actual shooting there were eyewitness to the aftermath.

Ms Doherty said one of the questions that the Coroner had to decide upon was whether the soldiers had ‘acted in self defence when confronted by deadly force’ or was this part of ‘a shoot to kill policy’.

She said the inquest had to ‘fully, fairly and fearlessly’ examine what had occurred.

The hearing heard that in November 1984 police were in possession of information about a motorbike being stolen in the Derry area.

This bike was later been used in the Gransha incident and had been resprayed and had a different number plate.

Counsel for the Coroner said that at the initial inquest Soldier A had said that he saw a motorbike with two people on it wearing crash helmets.

He said the pillion passenger, Fleming, had a handgun and he shouted for the bike to halt before ramming the vehicle knocking Fleming off.

He said he saw a man on the ground raising a handgun towards him and fired 3 shots and then a further 3 before Soldier B approached and he too fired.

Soldier B told the initial inquest that he was in another vehicle and saw Soldier A’s vehicle swerve towards the motorbike.

He said Soldier C and himself alighted and said that the motorbike was coming towards them with one person on it and both he and C fired.

In total Soldier B fired 24 shots and Soldier C fired around 30 shots.

Ms Doherty said that Fleming sustained a serious injury to his leg and she said there was some dispute by experts as to whether the injured man was capable of sitting up.

The hearing is expected to last up to six weeks.

Derry Now