Ex-Army medic asked 'to plant bullets' on Ballymurphy victims

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By Rebecca Black

A former Army medic has claimed an officer suggested planting ammunition in the clothes of those wounded in the Ballymurphy shootings.

Nigel Mumford was attached to the Second Battalion of the Parachute Regiment during the shooting incidents involving soldiers in the west Belfast estate in August 1971.

Giving evidence to the inquests of the ten people killed by gunfire, Mr Mumford also claimed the bereaved relatives now "just want money".

Speaking via videolink from an unknown location, he told Belfast Coroner's Court that an officer suggested planting bullets in the clothing of some of the wounded.

"I would not allow it," he said.

When asked why he did not report what happened, he said he did not want to negatively impact his career.

"It takes a brave man to go up against an officer in the British Army," he said.

The episode relatives call the "Ballymurphy massacre" started on August 9 as the British Army moved into republican strongholds to arrest IRA suspects after the introduction by the Stormont administration of the controversial policy of internment without trial.

A new inquest at Belfast Coroner's Court is examining the deaths of the 10 civilians.

Six were killed on August 9 including a Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight.

Mr Mumford disputed a witness statement given to the inquest by David Callaghan saying that he had been badly beaten by soldiers at a temporary Army base at Henry Taggart Hall.

Mr Mumford told the inquest he recalled treating Mr Callaghan for a bullet wound on his arm, and insisted nobody attacked him in the hall.

"What you have heard is perjury from families that want money, no soldier touched that man," Mr Mumford said, to audible shock in the Belfast courtroom.

Claims that IRA gunmen were in the Ballymurphy area at the time have been disputed during the inquest hearings.

Mr Mumford told the inquest he saw IRA gunmen armed with Thompson submachine guns, Armalite rifles and pistols outside Henry Taggart Hall.

He said he was shot at as he cleared stones thrown at the front of the hall.

That task had been allocated to him as a punishment after he shouted: "Up the IRA, by the f****** neck" at a crowd."

"The first gunfire started on me outside the Henry Taggart Hall. I could hear explosions and bullets going off everywhere, it was like Guy Fawkes Night,"Mr Mumford said.

He also told the inquest he heard an officer give the order to soldiers to shoot to kill.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Mumford described seeing soldiers psychologically torture people they interned.

He said he saw internees with bags placed over their heads and their hands tied behind their back, and said they were made to believe they were going to be pushed off a table and hung.

"It was to put the fear of God into them," he said.

"No one was pulling their fingernails off, no one was cutting them, no one was putting bruises on them.

"No one was taking teeth out with pliers, it was slight physical but nothing 'torture, torture'."

Questioned by counsel for Coroner Siobhan Keegan about inconsistencies between accounts he gave in a book he wrote about his army service and videos he posted on You Tube, Mr Mumford told the inquest that after he wrote his book one of his notepads was "stolen by a frog" in Tahiti.

IMAGE: John Teggart, who's father Danny was shot, and Michael Mansfield QC.

Among those treated by Mr Mumford was Danny Teggart, who died after being shot 14 times. The medic outlined graphic details of his chest injuries during the hearing on Tuesday.

Afterwards outside court, Mr Teggart's son John reacted to the evidence, in particular the suggestion that bullets were to be planted on those who were shot.

"There were stories made up at the time that my father had bullets in his pockets, although there was no evidence to support that, and now we have where that come from and were it was stated that a member of 1 Para (1st Regiment), as he says, an officer in 1 Para, had asked him to plant bullets on the wounded and he refused," he said.

"Bringing that out and clearing up the account for my father having bullets in his pockets, that was good for me, so that's some good that's come out of this new evidence today."

The inquest continues.

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