The killing of an IRA man by a British soldier was “unjustified”, a coroner has ruled.

Seamus Bradley, 19, was shot as he ran across a field in Derry/Londonderry in 1972.

He was killed by a soldier from the Royal Scots Regiment during Operation Motorman, an Army attempt to gain control of republican areas in Belfast and Derry, previously considered no-go zones for the security forces.

His death has long been a matter of contention. The Army claimed he was shot while in a tree where he had allegedly been armed with a machine gun and suffered further injuries when he fell.

But his family alleged he was killed later, claiming he was taken away in an Army Saracen vehicle and sustained fatal injuries while being questioned.

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Coroner judge Patrick Kinney rejected both versions of events at the hearing in Belfast Coroner’s Court, but said Mr Bradley did not pose a threat when he was killed.

Judge Kinney said he was satisfied Mr Bradley was killed by a soldier who got out of a Saracen vehicle, dropped to one knee and opened fire.

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He said he had not been able to confirm the identity of the soldier.

Bloody Sunday relative Kate Nash (right) looks on as Danny Bradley (left) hugs his sisters Martina Davis and MayMcDaid outside Laganside Courts in Northern Ireland, after a coroner ruled that their brother Seamus was unjustifiably killed by a British Soldier, as he ran across a field in Londonderry in 1972.
Image:
Bloody Sunday relative Kate Nash with Danny Bradley (left) and his sisters Martina Davis and May McDaid

Judge Kinney added: “He was running across an open area of ground, he had no weapon and he was clearly visible.

“The use of force by the solder was entirely disproportionate to any threat that might have been perceived.”

Speaking outside court, Mr Bradley’s brother, Danny Bradley, who has long campaigned for a fresh inquest, welcomed the verdict.

He said: “I am happy with the verdict, very happy with the verdict.

“As the judge said, it’s 47 years (later) but it’s a lot better than the last (inquest) verdict. I am happy that I went forward, even with threats from the IRA, and got this situation heard today.”

In 2002, the Historical Enquiries Team had determined soldiers acted lawfully in the killing.