Existence of video that may be ‘fundamental’ in an inquest emerges at 11th hour

The existence of a video that may prove “fundamental” in an inquest into the death of a man in disputed circumstances in Co Londonderry almost 40 years ago has emerged at the 11th hour of proceedings.

A fresh inquest into the death of Francis Bradley, 20, who was shot in an incident involving soldiers near Toomebridge on February 18 1986, has been at hearing over the last year.

It was ordered in 2010 by then attorney general John Larkin KC.

A review hearing on Thursday morning was told that a former soldier has claimed there was a video that may show the moment when Mr Bradley died.

The inquest is due to resume hearings at Coleraine court on Monday morning – just weeks before the cut-off date for legacy proceedings imposed by the Government’s Legacy Act.

On Thursday, it was raised that a former soldier, referred to as U, in a statement given recently indicated that there was a video that captured some of the incident.

U’s statement said that he took the video “back to the surveillance sub unit” but did not know what happened to it after that.

The hearing was told: “He states that the helicopter that was used in the air in the night on question had an image intensifier that had a video recording facility and that, immediately after the incident, he went to the location where the helicopter had landed, and he took the video.

“He recalls watching the video and he sets out what it captured and certainly the first clip he said captured two or three soldiers running forward from the railway line towards the farmhouse, this may be in the engagement in which Francis Bradley died.

“He says he remembers that he took the video back to the surveillance sub unit but he does not know what happened to the video thereafter. This is obviously the first time we’re hearing about this video so as a matter of urgency, steps need to be taken, in the first instance to try and locate the video but certainly explain what has happened to it.”

The hearing was also told that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been asked about the video, with hopes of an update being provided at the start of next week.

Coroner Peter Irvine responded by saying: “It sounds like it could be very fundamental to this whole inquest if there is such a video available, somewhat surprised that we haven’t been made aware of this at a much earlier stage.”

A legal representative for the MoD said: “At this stage, we have no idea in terms of instructions from MoD as to what would happen with those videos … we are taking those instructions.

“It has only recently been provided to MoD … clearly we weren’t made of aware of it, as far as I understand, prior to the draft statement from Soldier U being provided.”

At the time of the killing, the IRA said Mr Bradley was not a member. However, his name was later added to the organisation’s “roll of honour”.