HARTE COYLE COLLINS SOLICITORS & ADVOCATES
LEGACY INQUEST INTO THE DEATH OF PATRICK DUFFY ON 24TH NOVEMBER 1978
ISSUED 30th JUNE 2023
At an inquest hearing yesterday 29th June 2023 Coroner Mrs Bagnall J was told that the 4 soldiers present at the scene of the shooting in 2 Maureen Avenue, Derry on the 24th of November 1978 have now been identified and traced for the inquest hearing. Ciphered as Soldiers A, B, C and D, the 4 soldiers were legally represented before the inquest yesterday.
At an earlier Preliminary Hearing this year the MOD confirmed that a 5th soldier known as Soldier E, the Commanding Officer of what was believed to be a SAS unit, is now dead.
Lawyers for the family of Mr Duffy made submissions to the Coroner asking that the court consider listing the inquest for full hearing between September and December 2023. The next of kin now hope to have a date for the full hearing of the inquest fixed in September 2023 once full disclosure has been received from the MOD, PSNI and other state agencies.
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, Margarita, 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. It is believed that the killing was carried out by an undercover SAS unit dressed in civilian clothes who had been secreted in the property prior to the shooting for a number of days.
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 but 2 of these shots were fired at close range to the left side of his chest. Mr Duffy was alone and unarmed at the time of the shooting.
The family of Mr Duffy were granted a fresh inquest by Attorney General on 22nd March 2019. This legacy inquest is one which was earmarked to heard in 2023.
The Coroner Mrs Bagnall J opened the inquest and heard evidence in Derry Courthouse in April 2023 including expert evidence and evidence from family members. In January 2023 the family provided the Coroner’s Service with physical evidence items including the clothes their father was wearing when he was fatally shot.
Solicitor for the family, Patricia Coyle, Harte Coyle Collins, Solicitors & Advocates said today;
“The identification of the soldiers responsible for the killing of Mr Duffy comes 4 years after the fresh inquest was granted by the Attorney General. After the years of campaigning the family do not want to lose the opportunity to have the circumstances of the killing publicly scrutinised by an experienced judge. The obligation is now on the MOD to comply with the court direction to provide full disclosure by September 2023.”
Harte Coyle Collins,
9-15 Queen Street
Belfast BT1 6EA