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Appeal made for witnesses to 1975 shooting of teenager in hospital grounds

An appeal has been made for witnesses to the fatal shooting of a teenager in the grounds of a Belfast hospital almost 50 years ago.

Patrick Crawford, 15, was struck by a bullet while walking through the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital at around 9.40pm on August 10 1975.

A fresh inquest into his death is examining the circumstances of what happened in the incident, which involved soldiers.

It came at a turbulent time in Northern Ireland on the anniversary of the introduction of internment without trial in 1971.

Nurses rushed to the teenager’s aid, but he died of his injuries in A&E.

John Larkin
Northern Ireland’s former attorney general John Larkin granted a fresh inquest into Patrick’s death in 2015 (Paul Faith/PA)

Two women, who were walking with him at the time of the fatal shooting, gave evidence at the original inquest in December 1979 that the teenager was unarmed and had asked to accompany them from the Grosvenor Road to the Falls Road through the grounds of the Royal because he was afraid.

Patrick’s family believe he was shot dead by the Army in the grounds of the hospital with one high-velocity shot.

A fresh inquest into his death started hearings on March 11 at Armagh court house, and is set to resume on April 8.

Under the Government’s Legacy Act, legacy inquests in Northern Ireland need to conclude hearing evidence by a deadline of May 1 this year.

Former soldiers from the Royal Highland Fusiliers, who had a permanent military base in the basement of the hospital at the time of the shooting, have given evidence to the inquest.

Lawyers for Patrick’s family have issued an appeal for any further witnesses, including former members of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, to come forward.

They have asked for anyone who may have information or evidence about the shooting to speak to the Coroner’s Service in Belfast.

The family solicitor Patricia Coyle can also be contacted on 02890 278227 or on email at info@hartecoylecollins.com.

An earlier inquest into Patrick’s death in December 1979 recorded an open verdict.

In 2015, Northern Ireland’s former attorney general John Larkin granted a fresh inquest into Patrick’s death after representations from his family.