Coroner rules against exhuming body of man shot dead in Belfast in 1971

Coroner rules against exhuming body of man shot dead in Belfast in 1971
Professor Jack Crane

The body of a man shot dead by the British Army at a Christmas dance in Belfast in 1971 should not be exhumed, a coroner has ruled.

Joseph Parker's family want tests to be carried out on bullet fragments in an attempt to identify the weapon used.

Coroner Joe McCrisken said it would be impossible to make a match because the guns had been destroyed and it was not an inquest's function to try to trace potential suspects.

He said: "It seems to me that there is a no good reason for exhuming the body of Mr Parker."

The 25-year-old married father-of-one was killed in disputed circumstances when soldiers opened fire at a community centre in Ardoyne during a disco 45 years ago.

The episode unfolded when troops entered Toby's Hall, which no longer exists, claiming to be searching for a suspect.

Previous inquest hearings were told that after Mr Parker's death, there had been no attempt to recover the bullet fragments from his body to examine them.

Former state pathologist Professor Jack Crane told the coroner this was surprising.

He said the fragments could assist in determining the type and calibre of the bullet, as well as the exact weapon used.

Professor Crane concluded that the injuries were consistent with a high velocity bullet such as those fired from a military weapon.

The coroner said: "In Professor Crane's opinion, the entrance wound was caused by an intact bullet. It was not as a result of a ricochet or bullet fragment.

"It seems to me, having considered the evidence of Soldier J that the man who fired outside the hall fired aimlessly, extremely unlikely that any of these bullets struck Mr Parker so as to cast doubt on original post-mortem findings and those of Professor Crane."

He said significant resources are being deployed by the Coroners Service in an effort to obtain further evidence and to the trace the soldiers involved.

"If cogent evidence is provided in advance of the inquest or during the inquest that discloses a good purpose to exhume the body, then I am prepared to re-visit my decision," he said.


More in this Section

President Higgins and Defence Minister evacuated from hotel in Lebanese capitalPresident Higgins and Defence Minister evacuated from hotel in Lebanese capital

Gardaí appeal for help in search for missing man in GalwayGardaí appeal for help in search for missing man in Galway

Probe launched as Fianna Fail TD claims colleague voted for him in DailProbe launched as Fianna Fail TD claims colleague voted for him in Dail

Taoiseach: All 27 EU states will need to approve any Brexit extension requestsTaoiseach: All 27 EU states will need to approve any Brexit extension requests


Lifestyle

These are the nail hues to choose this season, says Katie Wright.Perfectly polished: 5 autumn/winter nail trends you’ll actually want to wear

This early 19th-century table is one of a number of Irish lots at Sotheby’s Style, Furniture and Ceramics sale in New York on Thursday (October 24).Irish lots poised to add bite to Big Apple sale

Something for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon, says Des O’SullivanSomething for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon

Des O’Sullivan gives a preview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in DublinPreview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner