Saturday, April 15, 2017

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‘Witness Evidence Bizarre And Unreliable ’ ➞ Lord Justice Colton

Eamon Sweeney with the last in a series of three reports on the findings into the British Army's 1972 slaying of Derry teenager, Manus Deery.

Solicitor for the Deery family Richard Campbell pictured outside Bishop Street court in Derry on Monday.

In delivering his final verdict into the killing of Manus Deery, Lord Justice Adrian Colton recorded that the oral evidence given by one witness was “so inconsistent and contradictory” that it was of no value to the case.

Mr Colton was referring to the oral submission given at Derry Courthouse last year by civilian witness Noel Duddy. In the written judgement delivered by the Presiding Coroner it is noted that Mr Duddy claimed to have witnessed the shooting of Manus Deery and gave a statement to the Coroners Service on June 17, 2016 stating he vividly remembered the victim making a hand gesture towards the Army observation post on the city walls as if to shoot soldiers and that Manus may have been carrying a stick that could have, at a distance, been mistaken for a firearm.

However, in another statement given just a few weeks later on July 6, 2016 Noel Duddy indicated that he had not seen any guns in the area at the time. And in another contradiction in a statement on October 17, 2016, the witness said that he could not be certain about his previous assertion that Manus had anything in his hands when he was struck by the fatal round.

And, when he took the stand during the inquest Noel Duddy said that his memory was suspect and that no reliance could be placed on the earlier suggestion that Manus had been gesturing towards the soldiers or that he had been carrying a stick.

Whilst Lord Justice Colton was entirely praiseworthy of the input to the inquest given by all other civilian witnesses, with relation to Noel Duddy he recorded:

Mr Duddy’s intervention in this inquest was most bizarre. Not a single civilian witness who gave evidence in this case said that they saw Mr Duddy at the scene when they were asked about this in the course of their evidence. At the end of the evidence it was accepted by all the legal representatives in this case that his evidence was so inconsistent and contradictory that it is of no value at all in this inquest. I agree.