BBC News NI’s political editor Enda McClafferty is reporting that relatives of 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty were informed of the death of the ex-squaddie, known as Soldier B, on Friday by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).
It is understood he died the previous day.
Soldier B was facing possible prosecution for the teenager’s death in Derry’s Creggan area.
The schoolboy was shot on July 31, 1972 during Operation Motorman, the military operation by the British Army to reclaim so-called “no-go areas” set up by republican paramilitaries in towns and cities across the North of Ireland.
Daniel’s cousin Christopher Hegarty, who was 16, was wounded in the same incident.
In July 2021, the PPS announced that it was dropping the case against Solider B.
But that decision was challenged by the family and it was quashed by the Court of Appeal in August.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Hegarty family said “they took no delight” in Solider B’s death.
“In fact, we will pray that God forgives Soldier B for murdering Daniel. We will offer a Mass for Soldier B as well. Our mother did the same in 1972,” the family said.
They also criticised the PPS for “dragging out the case”.
“They never really wanted to prosecute Soldier B for murdering a child,” the Hegarty family said.“They had to be dragged by us to that position during the course of almost 15 years of painful litigation”.
SDLP Colum Eastwood said in a statement: “Daniel Hegarty was shot and killed more than fifty years ago.
“It is a damning indictment on this society that his family have had to fight a lifetime for truth, justice and accountability.
“And it is further evidence that the British Government’s approach to legacy – shutting down justice – will never work for those who have lost the most.
“There have been serious institutional failings in this case that have badly let the Hegarty family down.
“The PPS decision to drop the case in 2021 was a significant blow and forced this family to fight again for their right to justice.
“The Hegarty family have again demonstrated grace in their response to this news. There is no victory for anyone in any of this.
“Families like the Hegartys deserve the truth and they deserve justice. That should be the focus of political leaders across these islands,” added the Foyle MP.Tags: