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Friday, September 3, 1999 Published at 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK


Mother wins Scots Guards court battle

James Fisher (left) and Mark Wright (right) were reinstated in the Army

Two soldiers found guilty of murdering a Belfast teenager in 1992 could be thrown out of the Army following a decision in the Northern Ireland High Court.

The Court has quashed the Army Board's decision to retain Scots Guardsmen James Fisher and Mark Wright.

The legal move to have the soldiers removed from the Army was brought by the mother of Peter McBride, 19, who was shot near his New Lodge home.

[ image: Peter McBride was shot in the back]
Peter McBride was shot in the back
Outside the court Mrs McBride said: "I am absolutely delighted. Now I want these soldiers put out of the army straightaway without any further hearings."

Her husband Peter said: "We should not have had to go through all this. They should have been dismissed from the Army after they lost their appeal."

Shot after stop and search

Guardsmen Fisher and Wright shot Peter McBride after they had stopped and searched him while on patrol.

[ image: The scene of the shooting in west Belfast]
The scene of the shooting in west Belfast
They found nothing on him but opened fire when he ran away.

The Scots Guards maintained they thought the victim was carrying a coffee jar bomb, but were convicted of murder in 1995.

They were sentenced to life imprisonment, but were given early release last year and were taken back into the regiment.

At a two-day hearing in the High Court last June, Mrs McBride applied for a judicial review of the Army Board's decision to reinstate them.

'Error of judgement'

Overturning the Army's decision, on Friday, Mr Justice Kerr said it would be necessary for the soldiers' application to be retained to be considered afresh.

"As I understand it, an Army Board need not take this decision.

''If it is to be taken by a Board, however, it is my view that a differently constitued board should carry out that task," he said.

Mr Justice Kerr said the Army Board had accepted that the Guardsmen had merely made an error judgement - or, at least, that they did not reject that claim.

He concluded that the Board had made an error of judgement because it had made its decision while at the same time accepted trial judge, Mr Justice Kelly's ruling that ''the Guardsmen fired on the deceased knowing that they had no justification for doing so''.

Mr Kerr said: ''If the Board had properly appreciated the purport of his judgement on this point, they could not have allowed the claim that there had been an error of judgement to play any part in the decision that there were exceptional circumstances which justified the retention of the soldiers in the Army."

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