Soldier B, Daniel Hegarty and why a fair trial is almost impossible

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has announced that a former soldier is to be prosecuted for the murder of a teenage boy who was shot dead in 1972.
The veteran, identified as ‘Soldier B’, will face the charge of murdering 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty.
He was shot and killed by a member of an Army patrol on duty in the Creggan area of Londonderry on 31 July 1972, during what was known as Operation Motorman.
The former soldier will also be charged with wounding with intent after Daniel’s cousin Christopher Hegarty, then aged 17, was also shot and injured in the incident.
Last year, the Hegarty family won the right to seek the prosecution of the soldier after the High Court quashed a PPS decision not to bring criminal charges against him.
First and foremost, I have great sympathy for anyone who loses a child.
However, nearly half a century later, justice will not be served in prosecuting a veteran over something which happened in exceptional circumstances.
I also believe it will be extremely challenging for for Soldier B to receive anything like a fair trial. The events of 1972 will undoubtedly have faded or blurred in the minds of witnesses, making it almost impossible to put contemporaneous evidence to a court.

Hilary Meredith