HARTE COYLE COLLINS SOLICITORS & ADVOCATES
LEGACY INQUEST INTO THE DEATH OF PATRICK DUFFY ON 24TH NOVEMBER 1978
13th JANUARY 2023
At an inquest hearing yesterday into the fatal shooting of Patrick Duffy by an undercover army unit in Derry on the 24th of November 197 the Coroner Bagnall J directed that the inquest should be opened on a substantive basis.
The family of Mr Duffy were granted a fresh inquest by Attorney General Mr John Larkin QC on 22nd March 2019. This legacy inquest is one which has been earmarked to heard in 2023.
At the previous Preliminary Hearing in December 2022 the Ministry of Defence indicated to the Court that work on the sensitive military disclosure would not be commenced until the middle of 2023. Lawyers for the family lodged written submissions to the Court in early January 2023 asking the Court to open the inquest and hear evidence as soon as possible dealing with a module of non-contentious evidence which does not require input from the MOD.
Coroner Bagnall J issued a ruling yesterday directing that the inquest be opened on a substantive evidence basis. The next Preliminary Hearing is fixed for the 9th February 2023 on which date the Coroner indicated that she hopes to be in a position to provide a date and venue for the substantive opening.
Patrick Duffy was shot dead just after 9pm on the 24th of November 1978 while in 2 Maureen Avenue, Derry by members of the British army. Mr Duffy was 50 years of age at the time of his death. He was married with 6 children, one of whom, Marguerite was sitting in a car outside the house at the time of the shooting with her 7 month old nephew. He died instantly from his injuries.
Pathology evidence at the original inquest, held on the 9th and 10th December 1980, confirmed that Patrick Duffy was shot up to 14 times. The same evidence confirmed that bullets were fired from his left-hand side or behind him into his back with at least 2 of these shots being at close range to the left side of his chest. Mr Duffy was alone and unarmed at the time of the shooting.
Solicitor for the family, Patricia Coyle, said today;
“My clients very much welcome the decision by the Coroner Bagnall J yesterday to open this fresh inquest into the circumstances of their father’s death and hear substantive evidence. They have endeavoured to assist the Coroner by providing physical exhibits, including the clothes their father was wearing when fatally shot which they have retained for almost 45 years. They have also provided the Coroner with an engineer’s report of the site of the shooting which they commissioned in 2003. They have campaigned to find out the exact circumstances and motivation for their father’s killing since his death. My clients are also hopeful that the modular approach adopted by the senior judge yesterday in this case may be considered in other legacy inquests yet to be heard.”