Court awards over £250k in damages to family of only woman shot on Bloody Sunday

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By Q Radio News

Almost £270,000 in damages is to be awarded to the family of the only woman shot on Bloody Sunday. 

Peggy Deery, a widowed mother of 14, was shot in the leg when paratroopers opened fire in Derry/Londonderry in January 1972, 

She died from a heart attack in 1988. 

The High Court judgment includes compensation for her injuries and for the subsequent years of mental distress. 

The deceased had attended the civil rights march with her daughter Helen before being shot in the left thigh by a high velocity round fired by a soldier later identified as Lance Corporal V at the Saville Inquiry. 

Lance Corporal V claimed he fired one shot aimed at a male petrol bomber and that he hit his intended target. 

The Saville Inquiry, however, rejected this account and concluded that Lance Corporal V had given knowingly false evidence to the Widgery Inquiry and that the deceased was an entirely innocent victim who was shot “without justification". 

Margaret Deery was taken to a house on Chamberlain Street where she was given first aid as soldiers entered the house and directed abusive comments towards her. 

On arrival to hospital she was found to be suffering from hypovolaemic shock due to severe blood loss and required resuscitation and blood transfusions but the blood she received was incompatible and she developed kidney failure. 

Mrs Deery underwent dialysis from 5th to 12th February 1972 and required further blood transfusions after developing a significant infection. 

She underwent a number of operations before being discharged home on 29 May 1972 but died long before the setting up of the Saville Inquiry or the publication of the report which completely exonerated her. 

The high court commented: “During her life, the cloud of imputed culpability would, at least to some extent, have cast intermittent shadow over her. 

“There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the deceased was actively suspected by the police of being involved in any wrongdoing on the day in question. 

“It is clear she was a woman of good character, with no criminal convictions and no links to any political party or paramilitary organisation. 

“It would appear that she attended the march with her daughter, only months after the death of her husband, in support of the idea that a society should be based upon fairness,

justice and equality for all irrespective of background or creed and any claim that she was anything other than an innocent demonstrator was a fabrication constructed and perpetuated by the perpetrator or perpetrators of a wrong in an attempt to avoid personal or collective responsibility for any wrongdoing.”

In conclusion it added: “The compensatory payment in this case for general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity including psychiatric injury and injury to feelings and aggravated damages for the increased and enduring injury to feelings suffered by the plaintiff was in the sum of £250,000. 

“This sum shall attract interest from date of service of the writ (16 th June 2014). 

“The special damages award consists of £17,028 for the cost of care provided to the deceased plus the agreed calculation in respect of the loss of caregiver’s facility.”

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