Joe McCann: Two former paratroopers accused of murder of IRA leader acquitted

Two veterans accused of murdering the IRA commander Joe McCann in 1972 have been acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

Their trial at Belfast Crown Court collapsed after the prosecution offered no further evidence.

Mr McCann, 24, was killed by paratroopers who shot him in the city in April 1972 while he was trying to evade arrest.

When it opened last Monday, the case became the first in several years to involve charges against former soldiers who had served in Northern Ireland.

The trial stopped following the decision by Mr Justice O’Hara not to allow statements given by the two former soldiers in 1972 as evidence.

As the Public Prosecution Service’s case rested on the material, its decision not to challenge the judge’s ruling brought the case to an end.

“In the circumstances Mr A and C I formally find you not guilty of the charge of murder,” Mr Justice O’Hara said.

The two men, both aged in their 70s, then left the courtroom.