Northern Ireland

Marian Brown: Ex-pathologist says 'no certainty' over fatal bullet

Marian Brown
Image caption Marian Brown was shot dead moments after kissing her boyfriend goodnight

A former state pathologist has told an inquest into the fatal shooting of a pregnant teenager in 1972 that he cannot say whether or not her injuries were caused by a high velocity bullet.

Marian Brown, 17, was caught up in an exchange of fire between paramilitaries and an Army patrol in west Belfast.

A fresh inquest was ordered after questions were raised over the velocity of the bullet that killed her.

Prof Jack Crane spoke having examined previous pathologists' reports.

This included an autopsy report carried out by his predecessor Prof Thomas Marshall.

Prof Marshall carried out the post mortem examination on Ms Brown who died in disputed circumstances.

His report at the time said her wounds were more likely caused by a Thompson sub-machine gun than an SLR rifle.

However, giving evidence earlier this month he said he could no longer be sure what type of weapon killed the teenager.


The Thompson was a weapon used by paramilitaries at the time.

It used medium velocity bullets, while the army used the SLR rifle which uses high velocity rounds

Giving evidence on Wednesday, another former state pathologist, Prof Crane, told the court that he could not say with any degree of certainty whether or not Ms Brown was shot by a high or medium velocity bullet.

He said that you could not tell what calibre of bullet caused the wounds that led to her death, adding that he was not willing to speculate.

During cross-examination, Prof Crane was repeatedly asked if he could determine what type of weapon killed Marian Brown.

He said you cannot do it and you should not do it.

He said that trying to do so was unhelpful, unscientific and could cause a degree of confusion saying that it just should not be done.

The inquest previously heard evidence from three other pathologists who tended to believe the wounds were caused by a high velocity weapon.

In court in Wednesday, a woman also described her terrifying walk home on the night Ms Brown was shot dead in west Belfast in June 1972.

'Four bangs'

Moya Hughes, who was 17 at the time, was walking along Roden Street when she recalled hearing shots.

Ms Hughes had been babysitting for the Clarkes, a couple who lived two streets away.

She said she was being walked home by Maurice Clarke when they heard shots. She described hearing four bangs and being told to get down by Mr Clarke.

He then pushed her against the houses and shielded her as she was on her hunkers.

When the shooting stopped, Mr Clarke shouted at her to run and she said she ran to her brother's house.

Ms Hughes was only contacted by lawyers for the coroner last Friday.

She said that prior to this she had never spoken to anyone in authority about the incident.

She said she heard on the news the Marian Brown had died and her boyfriend had been injured.

The inquest continues.

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