New witness comes forward to give evidence about shooting by British soldiers

A "crucial" new witness has come forward to give evidence about the shooting of a Belfast man by British soldiers almost 50 years ago, an inquest has been told.

The findings of an inquest into the death of Barney Watt, who was killed in disputed circumstance during public disorder in nationalist Ardoyne in Belfast in February 1971, had to be postponed after the new evidence emerged.

Belfast Coroner's Court was told that a new witness had contacted lawyers for the Watt family with fresh evidence, just hours before Coroner Joe McCrisken was due to deliver his report.

A lawyer for the Watt family told the inquest it was "crucial evidence".

Teresa Watt, the widow of Barney Watt, outside Laganside courthouse in Belfast.

Mr McCrisken said it was "important evidence based on the statement" the witness had provided.

The witness is due to give his evidence via video-link tomorrow.

Previously Northern Ireland's former state pathologist, Professor Jack Crane, dismissed claims from ex soldiers that Mr Watt was shot dead as he threw an explosive device.

Prof Crane told the inquest on Tuesday there was no evidence to support military claims that the 28 year-old was throwing a petrol bomb or incendiary device when soldiers opened fire.

He was shot in the chest and the buttock.

The retired pathologist's evidence to the court on the second day of the inquest contradicted previous claims from soldiers that Mr Watt was throwing a device.

The Watt case is among the oldest outstanding inquests being re-examined following an order from Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin QC.

After examining the evidence and original pathology reports, Prof Crane said: "The soldiers' account is not credible."

On Monday the inquest heard an account from a soldier known as Sgt C who said: "He had something in his hand and I gained the impression this object was alight.

"My round struck him as he was turning with the throw.

"The man fell to the ground and as he did so the object he had in his hand exploded and blew him into Chatham Street so that only his upper body was visible."

The victim had been on a night out at a local pigeon club before he was killed.


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