Appeal over 1972 rubber bullet death

Appeal over 1972 rubber bullet death

The Coroner's Service is appealing for a man, who may have seen his friend hit by a rubber bullet when he was a schoolboy during a disturbance in west Belfast in 1972, to come forward to help with a new inquest.

The appeal is being made ahead of a fresh inquest into the death of 11-year-old Francis Rowntree who was hit by a rubber bullet fired by the Army on 20 April 1972 in the Divis Street area of Belfast.Francis died from his injuries two days later.He was the first of three people who died after being struck by rubber bullets fired by the security forces.Francis, from Clonard Street, was last seen playing in area just before he was fatally struck on the head.A woman, who lived nearby, carried him to her flat where he was given the last rites by a priest from St Peter's Cathedral.Following the boy's death it was alleged that the plastic bullet had been tampered with, something the soldier who fired the shot denied.An unnamed 14-year-old pupil at St Peter's Secondary School provided a written statement to the Association for Legal Justice on 25 April 1972.In the statement, the schoolboy said he was with Francis when he was shot.The coroner believes he may be a vital witness to the incident and his information may be important to the inquest and to the Rowntree family.The coroner is appealing for this witness, who would now be in his 50s, or anyone with information about him to contact him on 9044 6833.Anyone with information can also contact police on 0845 600 8000 ext 29166 or the Rowntree family solicitor, Padraig Ó Muirigh, on 9023 0222.


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