Statement from the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the Daniel Hegarty case

Publication date:

The Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron said: “The Public Prosecution Service was informed recently by Soldier B’s legal representatives of his death. We advised the family of Daniel Hegarty of the development in the case at the earliest opportunity.

Where the PPS is made aware of the death of a defendant, that is the end of any potential prosecution in relation to them. I appreciate that this is an extremely difficult time for the family of Daniel Hegarty who have hoped and campaigned for many decades to see a criminal justice outcome in this case.

“As with many legacy matters, decision-making in relation to this case was complex and challenging. The evidential difficulties in prosecuting fatalities investigated by the Royal Military Police from the period between 1970 and 1973 are well documented. Other challenges often include the significant amount of time that has passed since the incident, meaning that witnesses or suspects sometimes cannot be located. If located, they may be in poor health, no longer alive, or even die during the process, as regrettably occurred in this case.

“This particular case presented complications and an evolving picture in terms of the relevant evidential and public interest considerations. These resulted in a series of judicial review challenges to decisions that were taken and we recognise the additional distress caused to the Hegarty family by the protracted nature of the various sets of legal proceedings.   

Given the history of this case, I can understand some of the views expressed by the family. However, we strongly refute any suggestion that the PPS acted contrary to the administration of justice or sought to improperly stop or delay any prosecution of Soldier B. At all times the decision-making was undertaken in good faith on the basis of an impartial analysis of the available evidence and relevant legal principles, and with the assistance of advice from independent senior counsel.”