Two former paratroopers acquitted of murder after trial collapses

Tuesday, May 4

Joe McCann was shot in the Markets area of Belfast in April 1972

Two former paratroopers accused of the murder of an Official IRA man in 1972 have been formally acquitted.

Joe McCann, 24, was shot in the Markets area of Belfast in April 1972.

The court heard he was evading arrest when soldiers opened fire, killing him.

The trial collapsed after the judge ruled that crucial evidence presented was inadmissible.

The evidence in question were interviews held by the police legacy unit, the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), in 2010.

After the prosecution confirmed it would be presenting no further evidence in the case, the judge told both former soldiers: "In the circumstances ,Mr A and C, I formally find you not guilty of the charge of murder."

The former paratroopers, ‘soldiers A and C’, are both in their 70s.

They men admitted firing shots but had pleaded not guilty and said they had acted lawfully when doing so.

Mr McCann's family Solicitors are to apply to the attorney general to open an inquest into his killing.

Meanwhile solicitors for the former soldiers said the prosecution should "never have got off the ground" and called for an inquiry led by a senior judge to investigate "the decision-making process and to ensure that the decision to prosecute these veterans was not political."