Frances Bradley

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

Co Derry man Francis Bradley shot dead in suspected shoot to kill operation

The brother of a Co Derry man shot dead in a suspected SAS shoot to kill operation has told an inquest the RUC said he would be dead before he was 21.

A month before his birthday 20-year-old Francis Bradley was shot dead close to an arms dump near Toome in February 1986.

His name was later added to the IRA’s roll of honour.

The inquest, which opened last year, had previously heard that Mr Bradley had told of being threatened by police before he was killed.

The dead man’s brother Brian Bradley gave evidence at his inquest in Coleraine on Thursday.

In a statement Mr Bradley recalled how his older brother had been threatened before his death.

In his evidence to coroner Peter Irvine Mr Bradley recalled how his sibling had been arrested several times before his death and met with human rights priest Fr Denis Faul after police tried to recruit him as an informer.

“I recall that after Francis was released from police custody that he was very nervous,” he said.

“Once he went to Fr Denis Faul in Co Tyrone and told him that the RUC had asked him to become an informer.”

He explained how police advised on the best way to pass on information to avoid detection but that his brother had “refused to become an informer”.

“Francis said that police had told him that he would be dead before he was 21 years old,” Mr Bradley told the court.

“Even though I was very young I myself was aware that Francis was feeling very fearful.”

Mr Bradley told the court that during a particular raid on his family home armed RUC officers were “aggressive” and “wrecked” the house during searches.

He also told how a police dog killed sheep on his father’s land as his mother looked on and confirmed his father, who died last year, later successfully sued the RUC.

During his evidence Mr Bradley also referred to a witness known only by the cipher C3.

In his own evidence this week C3 told how Francis Bradley was a “friend that I appreciated and loved very much”.

In his evidence, which was at times emotional, the former republican prisoner also said he “did not speak to anyone or provide information to anyone about Francis prior to his death”.

“I deny entirely any suggestion or inference that I provided any information to anyone that could have led to Francis’s death,” he said.

In his statement Mr Bradley confirmed that another man, who also gave evidence on Wednesday, had told him he was with C3 on the night his brother was killed.

This man claimed that C3 had been “acting strangely” on the evening and had wanted to return from a motor show in Belfast, which they had been attending, via an unusual route, which would have avoided the Toome area and ambush scene.

He added that it was claimed C3 was “keen to listen to news bulletins every hour”.

Mr Bradley said he later spoke to C3 about the claims made about him and that he “denied having provided any information which could have led to Francis’s death”.

He added that while he was “dubious” he was “still somewhat concerned” about what he had been told because he was aware that C3 and the other man had later fallen out.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the man who made the claims about C3 changed parts of his statement and agreed he had “a significant fallout” with him.

He confirmed that he was given a custodial sentence in 2017 for fraud and that he holds C3 “to blame” in relation to the matter.

Irish News