Springhill Inquest Day 4

The day began with Coroner, Mr Justice Schofield giving his decision on the MoD’s request for criminal record and intelligence information on witnesses.

Following on certain rulings in the Ballymurphy and Healy inquests (and the Bloody Sunday Inquiry), he allowed the information to be produced, but within strict parameters.

It had to be relevant to the incident in terms of location and timing. Thus, if the intelligence related to whether a witness was in one of the cars which figured in the incident, it would be relevant. However, intelligence from a later date or a different area could not be disclosed. Criminal record information should be accessed in relation to civilian witnesses and soldiers.

The evidence of expert witness Alastair Vannan, a forensic archaeologist, was heard at the inquest today. He explained the work that he had done to date in preparing maps of the Springhill and Westrock areas in 1972. This work will examine the evidence of both the civilian witnesses and the British soldiers to try and give a crime scene analysis of where the victims were shot and killed. A particular area of interest will be to examine what witnesses were describing in their statements and locating their accounts onto the maps.

Alastair Vannan said that his role as a forensic archaeologist involved carrying out a landscape analysis of historic photographs dating back to the late 1960s and early 1970s and comparing them with the modern-day area. The Springhill and Westrock area have changed dramatically since July 1972 he stated. His examination involved looking at ordinance survey and British Army maps as well as video footage from the 1970s to establish which buildings were in place when the incident occurred. He named several of the buildings that were included in the maps to date, these included Corry’s Timberyard, Corrigan Park, Corpus Christi Chapel, Springhill Community Centre, St Peter’s Primary School and the Catholic Ex Servicemen’s Club.

The inquest continues at 2pm Tuesday 28th February 2023