Soldier not justified in firing shot, says coroner at teenager’s inquest

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A British soldier was unjustified in shooting dead a pregnant teenager sharing a last embrace with her boyfriend in Belfast during the Troubles, a coroner said.

Marian Brown, 17, did not pose a threat to anybody and the military could not have identified a clear line of fire, Judge David McFarland said.

He accepted members of the Royal Anglian Regiment acted in self-defence on 10 June 1972 after someone travelling in a vehicle opened fire on their checkpoint in the west of the city with an automatic weapon.

Thomas Corrigan was badly injured as he and his first love were caught in the crossfire.

He said: “I am pleased that the truth has finally come out.

“It makes a difference but it won’t bring back Marian.

“It won’t bring back the child that we lost and of course it still creates problems for me and Marian’s family.”

The coroner was unable to identify the soldier who fired the lethal round as he delivered his preliminary ruling in Belfast.

He said: “Neither Marian Brown or anyone at her locality was acting in a manner that could reasonably or honestly have been perceived as posing a threat of death or injury to any civilian on Roden Street or to the soldiers positioned in the vicinity of the junction of Clifford Street and Roden Street.

“The force used was more than absolutely necessary in that the soldier could not have identified any target, and a clear line of fire to that target, that was posing a danger to him, his colleagues and/or to the civilians on Roden Street.

“The force used by that soldier by firing in the direction of Marian Brown was not justified as it was more than was absolutely necessary.”

Two members of the armed forces admitted unleashing 27 rounds in Miss Brown’s direction without warning, believing they faced firing gunmen.

“The use of force by the soldier that caused the death of Marian Brown, whoever he was, was not justified.”

Army rules of engagement were not followed and there was an “inadequate” investigation afterwards, the coroner added.

Mr Corrigan was walking with Miss Brown, a stitcher, and her sister.

She was going from her home at Stanhope Drive in Belfast to her sister’s house, they were parting ways and sharing a last hug when he heard loud firing erupt.

“To lose her was a massive part of my life.”

Miss Brown’s brother Richard Brown said he was sorry it had taken 46 years to prove something the family knew from day one.

“She was just a happy-go-lucky kid – she never got a chance.”

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