Belfast: Joe McCann: Trial of two soldiers collapses

Two former paratroopers accused of the murder of an Official IRA man in 1972 have been formally acquitted after their trial collapsed.

Joe McCann, 24, was shot in disputed circumstances at Joy Street in the Markets area of Belfast in April 1972.

The court heard he was evading arrest when soldiers opened fire, killing him.

Soldiers A and C, both in their 70s, had pleaded not guilty. The men admitted firing shots but said they had acted lawfully when doing so.

Both soldiers were interviewed by a police legacy unit, the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), in 2010 and it was that evidence which formed a substantial part of the prosecution’s case.

The judge ruled that evidence as inadmissible and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) confirmed on Tuesday it would not appeal against that decision, meaning the case could not proceed.

After the prosecution confirmed it would be presenting no further evidence in the case, the judge told both former soldiers: “In the circumstances, Mr A and C, I formally find you not guilty of the charge of murder.”