independent

Thursday 24 April 2014

Rowntree family considers challenge

Coroner John Leckey did not provide any prior notice of his decision to suspend an inquest

The family of a boy whose inquest has been suspended amid fears over national security say they may challenge the decision in the courts.

Padraig O'Muirigh, solicitor for the family of Francis Rowntree, said his relatives are very upset by the decision, and added: "They have waited 40 years to have a proper inquest into the death of their loved one and this development is a step backwards for them."

Francis was 11-years-old when he was hit by a rubber bullet fired in disputed circumstances by British troops in Belfast in 1972.

Mr O'Muirigh said the family's frustration was compounded by the fact the coroner John Leckey did not provide any prior notice of his decision. The coroner said he only received attorney general John Larkin QC's response on the matter on Wednesday.

Mr O'Muirigh said: "The manner in which the coroner decided to inform us of his decision was discourteous to the Rowntree family.

"We are currently considering a judicial review against the coroner in relation to this decision."

Francis was the first rubber bullet fatality resulting from army activity. He was shot on April 16 1972 by a soldier from the Royal Anglican Regiment as he played with friends at the Divis Flats complex in Belfast and died four days later from his injuries.

The family said he was shot at point blank range by a soldier who claimed the bullet ricocheted off a lamp post.

They alleged there was a recent forensic examination by state pathologist Jack Crane calling the army's version of events into question.

The family said there was not a proper police investigation into the incident and added civilian evidence which contradicted the soldiers was never put to them.

Press Association

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