Family of man shot by British Army to take legal action against PPS

John Copeland was shot dead by the British army in October 1971
The widow of a north Belfast man shot dead by the British army almost 50 years ago is set to launch legal action over a decision by prosecutors not to order a new PSNI investigation into the killing. 
Isobel Copeland’s husband John died in October 1971. Mr Copeland (23) was shot close to his Ardoyne home by a member of the Green Howards regiment and died two days later. Just before he was killed another man, Michael McLarnon, was shot by troops in nearby Etna Drive and died a short time later. Mr Copeland’s widow is currently suing the Ministry of Defence for the alleged unlawful killing of her husband. In 2014 Attorney General John Larkin refused a request to order a fresh inquest into the case. However, after the release of a draft Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report by the RUC/PSNI, Mr Larkin was asked to revisit his original decision. In response he wrote to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) asking them to direct the RUC/PSNI to investigate the shooting.
The PPS has subsequently refused to make what is known as a section 35 (5) referral.
“We have been fighting this for 15 years and it’s [still] going around. Hopefully we will get some sort of closure” Eddie Copeland 
Mr Copeland’s son, prominent Belfast republican Eddie Copeland, said his family was disappointed by the latest decision. “Legacy cases are just dragging their heels and it’s really disappointing,” he said. “My mother is going into her seventies and we want some sort of closure for her before it’s too late.” Mr Copeland said he is mindful of other family’s who lost love and that his family is determined to continue their campaign despite the latest set back.
Sectarianism, Murder, Collusion, RUC, PSNI, MI5, Loyalists, UVF, Stormont, UDA,
“I was one and half when my father was killed and my sister two and a half,” he said. “Between us there will be someone there to fight. “We have been fighting this for 15 years and it’s [still] going around. “Hopefully we will get some sort of closure.” Solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said as a result of the Attorney General’s intervention the Copeland family had “raised expectations that at last their case would be looked at”. “With decisions like this you cannot blame families if they become disillusioned,” he said. Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice, who has helped the Family, said: “Rather than acting in the interest of justice it appears the PPS is content with this continuing situation. “This is unacceptable.” A spokesman for the PPS said: “While we understand why families may view a section 35(5) request as a vehicle by which their case can be expedited, the Director of Public Prosecutions considered such a request inappropriate in this case. “The reasons for this have previously been outlined in a letter to the legal representatives of the Copeland family.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Connla Young for the original story 


MoD being sued by family over Copeland shooting

John Copeland died in 1971 after being shot by the British army

THE family of a North Belfast man shot dead by the British army more than 40 years ago is to sue the Ministry of Defence.


Ardoyne man John Copeland was shot as he walked from his mother’s house to his home at Ladbrook Drive on October 28 1971, dying in hospital two days later. He is the father of high-profile republican Eddie Copeland, who himself was shot and wounded by a British soldier in 1993. The family’s solicitor Kevin Winters on Thursday night confirmed that he will also take legal action to ensure British army files connected to the case which are held in England are not destoyed. The records are among a massive haul of Troubles-related documents transferred from the North of Ireland to a warehouse in Swadlicote in Derbyshire several years ago. The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has previously said it was unable to identify two soldiers involved in the shooting and Mr Winters said the family has “serious concerns that the archive material could be destroyed or otherwise subjected to weeding and/or redaction”.


In 2011 it emerged that security force files held at Gough Barracks in Armagh had been destroyed by police, who later claimed they were contaminated by asbestos. During a 1973 inquest into Mr Copeland’s death, three soldiers claimed they opened fire on the father-of-two after he shot at them with a pistol. However, three civilian witnesses later gave evidence that Mr Copeland was not armed. On the same day another Ardoyne man, Michael McLarnon (22), was also killed by the same Green Howard army unit as he stood at the door of his Etna Drive home, while a local woman was also shot and injured. Now Mr Copeland’s widow Isobel is claiming damages from the MoD for the death of her husband, accusing them of a range of failings including negligence. His son Eddie, who was just one when his father was killed, said his death has been “hanging over the family” for four decades. “It’s all about accountability,” he said. “The man who killed my father was eventually promoted and his name has popped up in a few cases. “It’s a case of holding the state to account. I am not worried about an individual person. At the end of the day the state killed him, not an individual.” Mr Copeland was also critical of the Historical Enquires Team investigation.

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News.

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