Family of Ballymurphy victim shot by British soldiers want body exhumed amid claims he was shot second time while in Army custody (Belfast Telegraph)

The family of one of 10 people shot dead by British soldiers in west Belfast in 1971 want his body exhumed, amid claims he was fired on a second time when in Army custody, a coroner’s court has heard.

Relatives of Joseph Murphy, a father of 12, are to officially request the move in a bid to test conflicting medical evidence on whether one or two bullets entered his body.

Mr Murphy (41) lived for 13 days after being shot in Ballymurphy and during that time he alleged that, when he was hit by the first bullet in the upper thigh, soldiers then brought him into a nearby barracks and shot him again through the same wound.

While Mr Murphy thought a plastic bullet had been fired into the open wound, his family allege it may have been a live round.

Ten people died as result of gunfire injuries, among them a Catholic priest and mother of eight, sustained over three days of shooting in August 1971 – an episode relatives refer to as the Ballymurphy massacre – while another man died of a heart attack following an alleged violent confrontation with soldiers.

As with Bloody Sunday in Londonderry six months later, soldiers from the Parachute Regiment were involved in the fatal shootings in Ballymurphy.

A new inquest into the 10 deaths caused by gunfire was ordered by Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin QC in 2011, and the opening preliminary hearing in Belfast Coroner’s Court has taken place.

Solicitor Mark O’Connor, representing Mr Murphy’s family, told coroner Jim Kitson the relatives would be asking for exhumation to find out if a bullet was left in the body.


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