A mural in Belfast on collusion between the Br...

An SAS soldier manufactured an account of the shooting of two IRA members in order to cover up the use of excessive force, a court has heard.

Dessie Grew (37), and Martin McCaughey (23), died when troops fired 72 bullets at the pair near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.

At the ongoing inquest into their deaths last Friday, the military witness, who gave evidence from behind a curtain at Laganside courts in Belfast, was identified only as Soldier C.

A barrister representing the men’s families, Karen Quinlivan, contested claims that he fired 19 rounds because he believed he was under attack, though it later emerged that the republicans did not shoot.

She said: “That is an account that you have made up in order to justify the extreme force that you used on the night in question.”

Soldier C confirmed that the troops gave no warning before firing, but he rejected claims that he had fabricated his account and said that he had opened fire in response to flashes that later emerged to have been caused by bullets fired by the soldiers.

The jury heard Soldier C had claimed to have opened fire because he believed his life and those of the other troops were at risk.

The inquest, which is in its fifth day, is one of several into so-called security force “shoot-to-kill” incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations.

Soldier C said he saw flashes through his night vision gun sight and moved forward with another soldier, firing as they closed in on the barn: “It’s a lot safer for us to do that than sit there and do nothing,” he said.

He said that firing stopped when they believed the shots being fired at troops had ended, but the barrister questioned this account because the troops were responding to flashes caused by their own bullets.

She said: “I am suggesting to you, Soldier C, that what you are saying makes absolutely no sense.”

The soldier answered: “That is your opinion and you are welcome to it.”

He added: “I believed my life and the lives of my team members were in danger.”

The inquest continues.


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TWO IRA men were shot dead as they lay wounded after being confrounted by SAS troops who had been keeping them under surveillance, it was claimed at an inquest on Wednsday 14th March 2012.

 Karen Quinlivan, a barrister representing the familes of the two Republicians, challenged soliders claims that they opened fire to protect themselves against armed terrorists in 1990 near a farm outbuildings in Co Armagh. She alleged : ” You make sure the wounded man is no longer wounded, he is dead.” Dessie Grew (37) and Martin McCaughey (23) died in a hail of 72 bullets near the farm buildings in October 1990. Special forces had been monitoring the mushroom shed near Loughgall because they suspected a stolen vehicle inside was to be used for terrorism. While soldiers argued that care had to be taken that suspects could no longer harm them, Ms Quinlivan asked whether they could have disarmed and arrested the two men.

She told a soldier witness at the Belfast inquest : ” After the two men had fallen to the ground in circumstances where they were clearly wounded by high-velocity rounds, which you will acknowledge are extremely damaging, SoldierD fired two shots into Dessie Grew as he ley face down on the ground and it appears also fired a third shot, the fatal shot, into Martin McCaughey’s head as he lay on his back on the ground.” Yesterday was day three (Wednsday 14th March 2012) of the inquest. Soldiers who will appear later are expected to argue that their lives were endangered, Ms Quinlivan said.

Loughgall, Co.

Evidence already before the inquest jury from a doctor who examined the dead IRA men said they were lying near guns and ammunition. Soldier J, an expert in training SAS soldiers, said servicemen may still be under threat even if their target is wounded. Ms Quinlivan said : ” You seem to be suggesting that it is soldiers’ practice to finish off wounded men?” Soldier J responded : ” It is in the soldiers mind tatn if he is approaching someone that may be wounded, may be still armed, may have something that could harm him, it is his responsibility to render that threat no more.” The inquest is one of several so-called security force ” shoot-to-kill ” incidents which have sparked official investigations. The officer commanding at the time, Soldier K, has denied there was a policy of shoot-to-kill.

The inquest continues….



AN IRA man was already dead or dying when he was shot on the ground from close range by an SAS soldier, a pathologist told a Belfast inquest. 

Dessie Grew ( 37 ) was one of two Provisionals gunned down near sheds under surveillance by special forces for terrorist activity near Loughgall, Co Armagh , in 1990. A total of 72 bullets were discharged at Martin McCaughey,(23) and Grew and a lawyer for their familes has accused a special forces member of finishing them off while they were  lying defenceless on the ground. Pathologist Dr Nat Cary said : ” You could not assume he ( GREW ) was dead but you could assume he was dying of his other wounds. Even when people are critically injured they may last a few minutes.” The inquest is probing one of several so-called security force ” shoot-to-kill ” incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations. Soldier D admitted firing the final two shots at Grew, claiming he moved as he opened a barn door, causing the former corporal to instinctively reach for his gun. Soldier D denied firing a third bullet at McCaughy’s head while he was lying on the ground. Dr Cary said that, given the number of bullets discharged and the nature of the injuries, it was highly likely that Grew and McCaughey received shots whilst on the ground or partially so.

The inquest continues….



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