INQUEST INTO THE DEATH OF MASTER PATRICK CRAWFORD (15) KILLED ON 10TH AUGUST 1975 AT RVH
INQUEST FIXED HEARING FOR 11TH MARCH 2024
CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS/PROSECUTIONS/INQUESTS & LITIGATION RE DEATHS OF CHILDREN IN NORTHERN IRELAND IN EARLY 1970S
ISSUED BY HARTE COYLE COLLINS, SOLICITORS & ADVOCATES
29TH SEPTEMBER 2023
The inquest into the death of Patrick Crawford (15) who was shot dead in the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital on the 10th of August 1975, has been fixed for full hearing for the 11th of March 2024.
The fifteen-year-old teenager was killed by a single shot to his chest while walking through the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital in August 1975. Two women, Mrs. Kathleen Faloon, and Mrs. Annie Miskimmon, who were walking with him at the time of the fatal shooting, gave evidence at the original inquest in December 1979 that the youth was unarmed and had asked to accompany them from the Grosvenor Road to the Falls Road because he was afraid. The family of Patrick Crawford believe that he was shot dead by the army in the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital with one high velocity shot.
The Coroner, Judge Gilpin opened the inquest in March 2022 and heard evidence including statements of evidence from family members before adjourning the inquest to hear evidence from pathology and ballistic experts as well as the MOD military evidence once full disclosure, PSNI and other state agencies.
At a Preliminary Hearing in September the coroner fixed the inquest for a full hearing on the 11th of March 2024 for 2 weeks at Armagh Courthouse.
The father, sisters and brothers of young Patrick Crawford campaigned for years to obtain the fresh inquest into the circumstances of his death. The family were granted the inquest in 2015 after Magdalene Crawford, sister of Master Crawford, petitioned and met with the Attorney General for Northern Ireland.
The family of Patrick Crawford remain committed to the completion of the inquest into the death of their brother. They welcome the coroner’s decision to fix the inquest for hearing prior to the deadline now imposed by the NI Legacy Act of the 1st of May 2024.
That 1st May 2024 deadline is now the subject of multiple legal challenges by relatives of other victims of the conflict including the families of Annette McGavigan, another child aged 14 killed in Derry in1971, Thomas Burns killed in Belfast in 1972 and James McCann killed in Belfast in 1973. All 3 are alleged to have been killed by the British army. The judicial review challenges in these cases are 3 of the 19 currently listed before the High Court. Some of these cases will be selected next week to be heard in November 2023.
In one of those challenges May McGavigan, sister of Annette McGavigan, has asked the court to consider the impact of the Legacy Act on the systemic failure by the state to properly investigate and prosecute her sister’s death involving British army personnel in the 1970s in Northern Ireland.
Patricia Coyle, Solicitor of Harte Coyle Collins said today on behalf of the families of both Patrick Crawford and Annette McGavigan;
“The moral and legal obligation to properly investigate and, where necessary, prosecute those responsible for the killing of innocent children is a fundamental given in a democracy. The Legacy Act NI 2023 will now be deprived the families of children killed in the conflict of a police investigation, the potential for prosecution and judicial scrutiny of the circumstances via inquests and civil litigation.
Our clients know of no society which would tolerate such a move. Our clients know of no parent who would rest until achieving some measure of public accountability and justice for the killing of their child.
The parents and siblings of children killed in Northern Ireland should be entitled to access all routes to justice available to parents in other legal jurisdictions. For our clients, the ICRIR is no substitute for our public police and court processes. We have a fiercely independent judiciary in Northern Ireland and our clients collectively retain their faith in the courts.
The brothers and sisters of Master Patrick Crawford welcome the opportunity to complete the inquest into the killing of their brother. The application for a fresh inquest into the killing of Annette McGavigan has been parked pending the outcome of a progressed LIB police investigation. That family will now never receive the benefit of a prosecution, inquest, or civil law hearing if the Legacy Act 2023 comes into operation.
The killings of these 2 children, Annette McGavigan (14) and Patrick Crawford (15), and many others, require proper investigation, public judicial scrutiny, and findings for the public record so that lessons can be learned not just in Northern Ireland but globally. Comparing the ICRIR mechanism to how the killings of children are treated in other democracies, with no statute of limitations on criminal investigations and prosecutions, no restriction on investigative resources, and scrutiny by judges via public inquests and litigation, raises fundamental questions of disparity of treatment for our clients.
Our clients instruct that, however sincere the intentions of those within the ICRIR, it is a flawed mechanism which does not satisfy our society’s moral or legal obligation to investigate and scrutinize the killing of innocent children.”
Any witnesses having any information in relation to the deaths of either Annette McGavigan (1971) or Patrick Crawford (1975) which might assist the investigation and inquest process are asked to contact their solicitor Patricia Coyle of Harte Coyle Collins as soon as possible.