Statement on behalf of the family of Leo Norney

Leo Norney, 17, was shot by soldiers in the Turf Lodge area of west Belfast in September 1975

The following statement was read to the media outside Laganside Court Complex after the Coroner, His Honour Judge Patrick McGurgan delivered his findings into the death of Leo Norney who was shot and killed by a member of the Black Watch regiment of the British Army on 13 September 1975.

Linda Norney, niece of Leo Norney said:

“Today, we, the family of Leo Norney who was shot and killed by the Black Watch regiment of the British Army, welcome the Coroner’s findings as to how Leo died.

“Leo was only a boy of 17. He had just got out of a taxi and was going to meet his girlfriend.

“Leo was not armed. He did not pose a threat to anyone. He was shot in cold blood and his shooting is unjustified.

“However the British army did not just kill Leo. They also murdered his good name. Later that night after the soldiers returned to their base, they concocted a false story which blackened Leo’s name for almost 50 years. They said that Leo was a gunman and that Leo had opened fire on them.

“Today, that narrative has been exposed for the deceit and lies that it is, and Leo’s good reputation has been restored. It is sad that it was necessary for my family to have to pursue this for so long, but the British Army left our family with no alternative. Had they had the courage and moral decency to tell the truth in 1975 then this process would not have been necessary.

“Today my family fondly remembers Leo for what he was: an innocent, good hearted, happy go lucky teenage boy.

“We also remember today Leo’s parents; his father Francis died prematurely aged 50 due to the heartbreak he suffered by Leo’s death and his mother, Annie, who campaigned endlessly until her death to clear Leo’s name.

“Thank you.”

The Norney family’s solicitor Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane said:

“This is another clear illustration that the inquest system continues to work for families seeking the truth as to how their loved ones died.

“It is an open and transparent process where documents are scrutinised and witnesses are publicly examined against all of the available independent and objective evidence.

“Today’s findings are not unique. It is the latest in a series of inquests in which unlawful state killings have been exposed and state cover ups unravelled and no one needs to look any further for the true reason why the British Government is intent in pushing through legislation to end other similar inquests.”