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BY BARRY MCCAFFREY
TheDetail.tv
6 May 2012
**Via Newshound

Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew

The families of IRA men Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew have rejected an inquest jury’s verdict that SAS soldiers had used “justifiable force” in shooting them dead.

On Wednesday an inquest jury ruled that SAS soldiers had been justified in shooting the IRA men dead at a mushroom shed near Loughgall, Co Armagh on October 9, 1990.

It later emerged that the SAS soldiers had fired 70 shots during the incident while the IRA men had not opened fire.

The dead men’s families claimed the SAS had shot them as they lay fatally wounded on the ground rather than arresting them.

However the inquest jury rejected the families’ claims and found the SAS had used “reasonable force” in shooting the IRA men dead.

“Mr Grew and Mr McCaughey put their lives in danger by being in the area of the sheds in the vicinity of a stolen car, which was expected to be used in terrorist activity,” the verdict stated.

“They were both armed with guns, wearing gloves and balaclavas and were approaching soldiers who believed that

their lives were in immediate danger.”

However the families rejected the jury’s verdict and questioned why key evidence was withheld from the inquest.

Speaking for the first time since the ruling, Martin McCaughey’s brother Peter said:

“We had fought for more than 20 years to get an inquest which could deliver an effective verdict, which properly reflected the evidence which was presented.

“My father Owen successfully took the Chief Constable all the way to the House of Lords to ensure that the PSNI handed over all documents concerning Martin and Dessie’s deaths.

“Yet not a single police or army log, which would have contained crucial contemporaneous information concerning the killings, could be apparently found.

“My father died without having seen an inquest.”

QUESTIONS WHY EVIDENCE WAS WITHHELD?

In 2011 Mr McCaughey’s mother Brigid took another legal challenge to the Supreme Court ( formerly House of Lords) to force the PSNI and British army to explain what plans they had made to arrest the two IRA men.

“Despite this allegedly being an arrest operation, not one soldier who gave evidence could articulate what the plan was and the jury has failed to deal properly with that,” said Peter McCaughey.

During the inquest Mrs McCaughey was forced to take another legal challenge to ensure the families’ legal team were allowed to question the SAS soldiers about their involvement in previous fatal killings in Northern Ireland.

Soldier `A’, who led the SAS unit which shot Grew and McCaughey, had previously been involved in the shooting dead of another IRA man Francis Bradley four years earlier.

`A’ initially gave evidence at the inquest but failed to return to the hearing after it was ruled he could be questioned about his involvement in the Francis Bradley shooting and evidence appearing to show that all three IRA men had been shot while lying fatally wounded on the ground.

WE WILL FIGHT ON – FAMILIES

Insisting the families would not be deterred by this week’s verdict, solicitor Fearghal Shiels of Madden&Finucane, said:

“We’re very disappointed that the jury has returned a verdict which fails to deal with critical aspects of some of the evidence.

“In dealing with the shooting of Dessie Grew, Soldier `A’ said that one of his unit had shot Mr Grew, not because he presented any threat, but because he showed “signs of life”.

“That was a clear and unequivocal account of the unjustified shooting of a wounded man which occurred after `A’ had ordered a ceasefire”.

“Soldier `D’, who administered what was effectively a coup de gras to Dessie Grew, could have kicked away his weapon had he genuinely believed that he posed any threat”.

Challenging the jury’s findings that the SAS had only opened fire on the the IRA men as they walked towards their position, Mr Shiels said:

“Two pathologists, Dr Derek Carson, former Assistant State Pathologist in Northern Ireland and Dr Nat Cary both gave agreed evidence that the only wound which Martin McCaughey positively sustained whilst upright had entered his back and exited his chest.

“Clearly Mr McCaughey was not facing the soldiers when he sustained that wound and clearly therefore was not advancing towards soldiers when he was shot.

“Both pathologists agreed that the remainder of his wounds were not inconsistent with him having being shot whilst on the ground and that he received a fatal head wound from a position in which no soldier admits to having fired a shot.

“This case is already before the European Court of Human Rights, and that court will decide whether the state has breached the right to life, under the convention.”

BBC
3 May 2012

An inquest jury has ruled that an SAS soldier was justified in shooting an IRA man as he lay dying on the ground.

Dessie Grew was shot dead alongside fellow IRA man Martin McCaughey in County Armagh in October 1990.

The IRA men were shot more than 30 times at an isolated shed near Loughgall

The pair, who were both armed with AK47 rifles, were shot more than 30 times when the SAS unit opened fire at isolated farm buildings near Loughgall.

The ruling is thought to be the first ‘shoot to kill’ verdict in Northern Ireland in 30 years.

The deaths caused controversy in Northern Ireland when it was revealed that neither of the IRA men had fired a shot during the incident, prompting claims that the SAS had opened fire on the men without making an attempt to arrest them.

Surveillance

The inquest, which opened in March, examined the cause of the men’s deaths and the planning and control of the SAS operation – including claims that Mr Grew had been shot twice as he lay mortally wounded on the floor of a mushroom shed.

The County Armagh farm was believed to have been under surveillance on the night of 9 October 1990 and the SAS fired more than 70 rounds in the incident.

The Detail news website reported that Dessie Grew had been shot 22 times with wounds to his heart, lungs, liver, kidney, ribcage and diaphragm while Martin McCaughey was shot 10 times.

During the case, an SAS witness identified only as ‘Soldier D’ admitted opening fire on Mr Grew while he was on the ground.

However, he insisted his actions been justified, claiming the IRA man had made a noise as the SAS entered the shed and he believed the soldiers’ lives were in danger.

Balaclavas

Reaching its verdict after hearing weeks of evidence, the jury ruled that that the SAS had used “reasonable force” during the operation and that the IRA men’s own actions had contributed to their deaths.

“Mr Grew and Mr McCaughey put their lives in danger by being in the area of the sheds in the vicinity of a stolen car, which was expected to be used in terrorist activity,” the verdict stated.

“They were both armed with guns, wearing gloves and balaclavas and were approaching soldiers who believed that their lives were in immediate danger.”

The men’s families had campaigned for an inquest to be held for more than 20 years.

During the case, their barrister said that the families accepted that that both men had been on what was described as ‘active service’ for the IRA and were therefore liable to arrest.

However they argued that the shooting of the two men as they lay dying on the ground was evidence of a shoot-to-kill policy.

Under attack

The Detail reported that the jury could not agree on whether the SAS had attempted to arrest the IRA men.

However, they ruled that the soldiers were justified in opening fire as they thought the IRA men had moved towards their positions and they believed they were under attack.

“We cannot be unanimous on the balance of probabilities whether or not there was an opportunity to attempt arrest in accordance with the Yellow Card (British Army rules on soldiers opening fire) prior to the soldiers feeling compromised.

“However, once the soldiers felt compromised we agree that there was no other reasonable course of action,” the verdict said.

The coronor, Brian Sherrard, praised the Grew and McCaughey families for the dignity they had shown throughout the inquest.

Dessie Grew was 37 at time of his death. His older brother Seamus had been shot dead by the police in 1982.

Twenty-three-year-old Mr McCaughey was a former Sinn Fein councillor.

Herald.ie
March 21 2012

An SAS soldier celebrated with a triumphant drink after shooting dead an IRA man, a Belfast inquest has heard.

He reached for a beer hours after his role in an undercover surveillance operation in the Co Armagh countryside, which also ended in the death of a second provisional when they were confronted by troops close to farm buildings near Loughgall.

Soldier D told the inquest: “I had a few beers because I am alive.”

Dessie Grew, 37, and Martin McCaughey, 23, were killed when soldiers fired 72 bullets at them in October 1990.

Soldier D added: “If success is measured that I am alive and that none of my patrol died in that exchange then I would say that probably there are some people alive today because of that.

“I would have to say personally that I regard that as a success.”

The inquest is one of several so-called security force “shoot-to-kill” incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations.

Soldier D admitted firing the final two shots at Grew, claiming he moved as he opened a barn door, causing the former corporal to instinctively reach for his gun. But he denied firing a third bullet from close range at McCaughey’s head while he was lying on the ground.

He admitted moving a bullet from his gun into a magazine while back at base, effectively altering potential evidence, but claimed this was to make scrutiny of the weapon easier, adding that he explained this to police who took the Heckler and Koch weapon for forensic examination.

The inquest continues.

Belfast Telegraph
21 March 2012

An SAS soldier shot an armed IRA member as he lay wounded on the ground but did not tell police on the advice of the Army, an inquest heard yesterday.

Dessie Grew (37) and Martin McCaughey (23) were killed when soldiers fired 72 bullets at them near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.

Three AK assault rifles were later found near the bodies of the dead men.

A man known only as Soldier D recounted how he opened fire on the men after a senior colleague fired the first shot.

It later emerged the republicans did not shoot, and the soldiers have said they were firing at flashes they now believe were caused by their own gunshots.

Soldier D was being cross-examined by the barrister for the families, Karen Quinlivan, on differences in statements he gave in 1990 and 2011.

He confirmed that in the first few seconds after the shooting started, he shot McCaughey, who had already been felled by the first bullets shot by Soldier A.

Asked why he had not revealed to police at the time that he had shot a man while he was on the ground, Soldier D said: “My legal adviser told me to say that.”

Ms Quinlivan said: “And you were told by your legal adviser not to communicate that to the RUC?”

The soldier said that was correct, and added: “I wasn’t very happy about that. And I reported that after the event.” He said he fired because he believed McCaughey was still a threat.

He said of the advice given to him by the military: “I raised it when I went back to my organisation.”

Soldier D said: “I did complain. I complained vigorously.”

The military witness gave evidence from behind a curtain at Laganside courts in Belfast.

The inquest is one of several so-called security force shoot-to-kill incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations.

Troops had a mushroom shed near Loughgall under surveillance amid suspicions a stolen vehicle inside was to be used for terrorism.

On the night of the shootings, Soldier D said he was told on his radio that two armed men were at the barn.

He said that issuing a warning would have put the troops at risk, and after a colleague opened fire he said he believed a gun battle had broken out.

The inquest continues.

Belfast Telegraph
19 March 2012

An SAS soldier manufactured an account of the shooting of two IRA members in order to cover up the use of excessive force, a court has heard.

Dessie Grew (37), and Martin McCaughey (23), died when troops fired 72 bullets at the pair near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.

At the ongoing inquest into their deaths last Friday, the military witness, who gave evidence from behind a curtain at Laganside courts in Belfast, was identified only as Soldier C.

A barrister representing the men’s families, Karen Quinlivan, contested claims that he fired 19 rounds because he believed he was under attack, though it later emerged that the republicans did not shoot.

She said: “That is an account that you have made up in order to justify the extreme force that you used on the night in question.”

Soldier C confirmed that the troops gave no warning before firing, but he rejected claims that he had fabricated his account and said that he had opened fire in response to flashes that later emerged to have been caused by bullets fired by the soldiers.

The jury heard Soldier C had claimed to have opened fire because he believed his life and those of the other troops were at risk.

The inquest, which is in its fifth day, is one of several into so-called security force “shoot-to-kill” incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations.

Soldier C said he saw flashes through his night vision gun sight and moved forward with another soldier, firing as they closed in on the barn: “It’s a lot safer for us to do that than sit there and do nothing,” he said.

He said that firing stopped when they believed the shots being fired at troops had ended, but the barrister questioned this account because the troops were responding to flashes caused by their own bullets.

She said: “I am suggesting to you, Soldier C, that what you are saying makes absolutely no sense.”

The soldier answered: “That is your opinion and you are welcome to it.”

He added: “I believed my life and the lives of my team members were in danger.”

The inquest continues.

Herald.ie
March 16 2012

An SAS soldier manufactured an account of the shooting of two IRA members to cover up the use of excessive force, it was claimed at an inquest.

Dessie Grew, 37, and Martin McCaughey, 23, died when troops fired 72 bullets at the pair near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.

The military witness, who gave evidence from behind a curtain at Laganside courts in Belfast, was identified only as Soldier C.

A barrister representing the men’s families, Karen Quinlivan, contested claims he fired 19 rounds because he believed he was under attack, though it later emerged the republicans did not shoot. Ms Quinlivan said: “That is an account that you have made up in order to justify the excessive force that you used on the night in question.”

Soldier C confirmed the troops had the mushroom shed near Loughgall under surveillance amid suspicions a stolen vehicle inside was to be used for terrorism.

He confirmed troops gave no warning before firing, but he rejected claims he had fabricated his account and said he had opened fire in response to flashes that later emerged to have been caused by bullets fired by the soldiers.

The jury heard Soldier C had claimed to have opened fire because he believed his life and those of the other troops were at risk. After a colleague started shooting at the two men, Soldier C said: “I thought there were more men. More men could be hiding. I seen flashes that I thought were muzzle flashes.”

The inquest, which is in its fifth day, has already heard from a doctor who examined the dead men and said they were lying near guns. The inquest is one of several so-called security force “shoot-to-kill” incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations.

The officer commanding at the time of the present matter, Soldier K, has denied there was a policy of shoot to kill.

The inquest continues.

By Michael McHugh
Independent.ie
Wednesday March 14 2012

TWO IRA men were shot dead as they lay wounded after being confronted by SAS troops who had been keeping them under surveillance, it was claimed at an inquest today.

Karen Quinlivan, a barrister representing the families of the two republicans, challenged soldiers’ claims that they opened fire to protect themselves against armed terrorists in 1990 near farm outbuildings in Co Armagh.

She alleged: “You make sure the wounded man is no longer wounded, he is dead.”

Dessie Grew, 37, and Martin McCaughey, 23, died in a hail of 72 bullets near the farm buildings in October 1990.

Special forces had been monitoring the mushroom shed near Loughgall because they suspected a stolen vehicle inside was to be used for terrorism.

While soldiers argued that care had to be taken that suspects could no longer harm them, Ms Quinlivan asked whether they could have disarmed and arrested the two men.

She told a soldier witness at the Belfast inquest: “After the two men had fallen to the ground in circumstances where they were clearly wounded by high-velocity rounds which you will acknowledge are extremely damaging, Soldier D fired two shots into Dessie Grew as he lay face down lying on the ground and it appears also fired a third shot into Martin McCaughey’s head, the fatal shot into Martin McCaughey’s head, as he lay on his back on the ground.”

This is day three of the inquest. Soldiers who will appear later are expected to argue that their lives were endangered, Ms Quinlivan said. Evidence already before the inquest jury from a doctor who examined the dead IRA men said they were lying near guns and ammunition.

Soldier J, an expert in training SAS soldiers but who was not involved in the Loughgall operation, said servicemen may still be under threat even if their target is wounded.

Ms Quinlivan said: “You seem to be suggesting that it is soldiers’ practice to finish off wounded men?”

Soldier J responded: “It is in the soldier’s mind that if he is approaching someone that may be wounded, may be still armed, may have something that could harm him, it is his responsibility to render that threat no more.”

BreakingNews.ie
13 Mae 2012

Police had advance warning of a planned IRA operation which ended with two gunmen being shot dead by the SAS, an inquest heard today.

But the officer in charge of the military surveillance near Loughgall in Co Armagh denied there was a shoot-to-kill policy at the time.

Martin McCaughey, 23, and Dessie Grew, 37, died in a hail of bullets near farm outbuildings that troops believed contained a vehicle to be used for terrorism, Soldier K said.

An inquest into the October 1990 killings was held today in Belfast. Soldier K said his men opened fire only if life was endangered.

“My understanding of what some people might think a shoot-to-kill policy is is that personnel, military personnel, set out to go on to the ground with the specific objective of shooting to kill terrorists at any opportunity when they see them,” he said.

“That is not my policy, it was not the policy of the armed forces in Northern Ireland.”

The soldiers were observing a vehicle they believed was intended to be used for terrorist activity, Soldier K added. He said using a camera instead would have been a crude option, difficult to disguise, and it was better to have humans with a view of the scene to control it.

RUC intelligence said that the Provisional IRA had an operation planned in Armagh between October 8 and 9, lawyer for the families Karen Quinlivan said. Grew was identified as being in charge. Military intelligence did not specify when or where terrorist activity would take place, Soldier K told the inquest.

Ms Quinlivan questioned the soldier about why troops had fired 72 shots. Autopsy reports showed Grew sustained 48 wounds while McCaughey was hit by 10 bullets.

“Soldiers (were) firing at close range against a man on the ground (McCaughey), causing his death,” Ms Quinlivan said, asking what threat could have been posed by an injured man lying on his back. She said two rounds were also fired at Grew while he was lying wounded on the ground.

Soldier K responded that bullets which aimed to disable were confined to the movies.

“In my experience, in the context of a life-threatening situation … when people‘s adrenaline is pumping, actions and activities can be extremely confusing,” he said.

“When your life is threatened you will take action to ensure that person no longer presents a threat to you.”

He added that ascertaining whether that person was a threat would mean assessing whether he could still use his weapon.

BBC
13 Mar 2012

The commanding officer of an SAS unit that shot dead two PIRA men has denied they were operating under a shoot-to-kill policy.

Martin McCaughey, 23, and Dessie Grew, 37, died on a farm near Loughall, County Armagh in October 1990.

An inquest into their deaths has just begun, over 20 years later.

Soldier K told the inquest in Belfast that all soldiers followed the yellow card policy where they only opened fire if their lives were in danger.

He said the army were there to provide reassurance, deterrent and attrition.

However, documents provided by the Ministry of Defence to the inquest outlined that soldiers were aware that part of their role was to kill or capture terrorists.

Herald.ie
March 12 2012

An IRA man shot dead by undercover soldiers over 20 years ago was carrying ammunition at the time, an inquest has been told.

A doctor called to the scene claimed a rifle magazine protruded from the trouser pocket of one of the victims and guns were seen nearby.

Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew died in a hail of bullets near Loughgall in Co Armagh. Their deaths prompted allegations that they were victims of a British shoot-to-kill policy.

Soldiers due to give evidence feared they would be attacked, Belfast inquest coroner Brian Sherrard said. He added: “At the time of opening fire they believed that the men were going to fire on them.”

Grew, 37, and McCaughey, 23, were shot close to isolated farm buildings at Lislasly on October 9 1990. The shed was being monitored by the security forces. The case has become one of the oldest outstanding inquests in Northern Ireland.

Dr Brian Cupples checked the men’s bodies shortly after they were shot dead and his statement was read to the inquest and he said one of the men was wearing a green boiler suit and gloves and there was a gun close to the body.

“There was evidence of multiple gunshot wounds to the body,” he said. “There was no evidence of any struggle having taken place after the shooting, with death occurring at the immediate time of the shooting.”

The other man was wearing a jersey, jeans and gloves. He was lying face up and a rifle was nearby. “A rifle magazine was coming from the trouser pocket,” Dr Cupples said.

The jury will have to consider more broadly the security operation that culminated in the deaths, its purpose, its planning, the actions of the soldiers, their knowledge and the degree of force used in the shooting as well as the circumstances in which the victims came to be in the shed and came by their deaths.

The inquest is due to last four weeks.

Belfast coroner to examine 21-year-old case that raised fears of a shoot-to-kill policy by security forces

Henry McDonald
Guardian
12 Mar 2012

An inquest has opened in Belfast into the deaths of two IRA members who were shot by British special forces soldiers more than two decades ago.

Dessie Grew and Martin McCaughey died in an SAS ambush in October 1990. The incident prompted allegations that the security forces were still operating a “shoot-to-kill” policy in Northern Ireland.

The court heard that the 11-strong jury would have to consider how the two men came to be at an isolated farm building and how they met their deaths.

In May last year, the supreme court in London ruled that a coroner must examine the “planning and control of the operation” that led to the shootings.

McGaughey, a 23-year-old Sinn Fein councillor, and Grew, a former member of the Irish National Liberation Army, were killed close to a farmhouse near Loughall, Co Antrim.

The court will be told that four undercover soldiers fired 72 rounds at the two men. Autopsy reports showed Grew sustained 48 wounds and McCaughey was hit by 10 bullets.

Three AK47 rifles were later found beside the men. The pair were regarded as among the most active IRA members operating in Co Armagh at the time. The farm was believed to have been under surveillance by an army undercover unit.

Over the next few weeks the inquest will hear from more than 30 witnesses.

The case has become one of the oldest outstanding inquests in Northern Ireland. Lawyers for the men’s families have claimed that the failure to hold a prompt inquest breached their right to life under European legislation.

Relatives sought a ruling by the supreme court after disagreements about the parameters of the inquest. The coroner must comply with article 2 of the European convention on human rights, even though the Human Rights Act 1998 was not in force at the time of the shootings.

The European court of human rights has ruled that states have a duty to investigate suspicious deaths and determine whether they comply with human rights legislation.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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