Bloody Sunday contempt man jailed

The charge was brought by Lord Saville, the inquiry's chair

A man has been sentenced by the High Court to three months in jail for failing to co-operate with the Bloody Sunday inquiry.

The 49-year-old man, known in court as PIRA 9, is the first person to be jailed in connection with the tribunal.

After hearing his sentence, he shouted: "I am the only man to be punished for Bloody Sunday. It's a disgrace."

After declining an opportunity to "reconsider his position" the man was told to begin his sentence on Monday.

Covering fire

The application to punish the man for contempt of the tribunal was brought on behalf of its chairman, Lord Saville.

The inquiry had received evidence from Paddy Ward that the man had been actively involved in the events of Bloody Sunday on 31 January, 1972, when paratroopers shot dead 13 men.

Lord Saville's lawyer, Bernard McCloskey, said the evidence was that the man had been seen firing at soldiers and that Mr Ward and others gave him covering fire to enable him to make his escape.

Defence lawyer John Coyle referred to a letter written to the inquiry by solicitor Denis Mullan quoting PIRA 9 as saying that Mr Ward's evidence contained such a degree of inaccuracy that it did not merit a response from him.

The Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Kerr, said the court was concerned about having to send a person to jail with no previous convictions and adjourned the hearing to allow PIRA 9 to reconsider his position.

When the hearing resumed Mr Coyle said: "My client's attitude is unaltered."

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