Northern Ireland

Pearse Jordan inquest jury fails to agree on key aspects of IRA man's killing

Pearse Jordan
Image caption Pearse Jordan was shot dead by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in 1992

An inquest into the death of an IRA man who was shot dead by police in Belfast has failed to reach agreement on key aspects of the case, including whether or not reasonable force was used.

Pearse Jordan was killed in disputed circumstances after a 1992 car crash.

Witnesses claimed he was shot in the back as he tried to run away after the stolen car he was driving was rammed.

The coroner said he would accept the jury's limited findings and refused the family's request for a fresh inquest.

'Shoot-to-kill'

There was widespread controversy over Mr Jordan's death, following the crash on Belfast's Falls Road on 25 November 1992.

It was one of several, high-profile cases during the Troubles, where the families of men killed by the security forces in Northern Ireland claimed that their relatives died as a result of a "shoot-to-kill" policy.

After years of legal delays, the inquest opened in Belfast last month, and concluded on Friday.

Although the jury failed to reach unanimous agreement on many of the questions they were asked to give their verdict on, they did agree that Mr Jordan was shot by an RUC officer after he got out a red Ford Orion car which had been forcibly brought to a stop on the Falls Road.

They agreed with the findings of a post mortem examination that Mr Jordan died of a bullet wound to his chest.

'Military surveillance'

The jury stated that the dead man had sustained three wounds in total - a bullet wound to the back of his left arm, a wound to the left shoulder and the fatal chest wound.

However, they ruled it was "not possible to determine the order in which the wounds were sustained".

The verdict stated that the RUC operation to stop the car had been based on "ongoing military surveillance" in Arizona Street, and intelligence gathered on the day of Mr Jordan's death of "a possible movement of munitions in west Belfast by PIRA".

The intelligence had indicated that a Ford Orion was "present" at the suspected weapons movement.

However, having found that Mr Jordan had been fatally wounded by an RUC officer, the jury failed to agree on whether the force used by the officer was "reasonable in the circumstances".

They also failed to reach a unanimous verdict on the "officer's state of belief concerning the actions of Mr Jordan" or whether there was "another reasonable course of action" open to the officer, as an alternative to firing.

Law change

According to the investigative website, the Detail, the forewoman of the jury told the coroner: "At this point in time there is a mindset (and) we're not going to get by it."

The barrister representing the Jordan family, Barry Macdonald SC, requested that the jury be dismissed and fresh inquest ordered.

However the coroner, Brian Sherrard, refused both applications and said he would accept the limited findings of the jury.

Mr Jordan's family fought a 20-year legal battle over the inquest, winning two challenges against UK legal procedures.

In 2002, they forced a change in the law, compelling members of the security forces who had used lethal force to attend inquest hearings.

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