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Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry
- Volume VII - Chapter 141

The bullet hole in Gerald Donaghey’s left jacket pocket

Chapter 141: The bullet hole in Gerald Donaghey’s left jacket pocket

141.1 Dr John Martin, the Principal Scientific Officer at the Department of Industrial and Forensic Science (DIFS) who tested the clothing of Gerald Donaghey and the other deceased for firearm discharge residue, noted during his examination of Gerald Donaghey’s clothing that the bullet that fatally wounded him had passed through his lower left jacket pocket.1As we have already mentioned, one of the nail bombs removed by Captain 127 came from this pocket.2

1 D358 2 D358; WT9.56; WT9.58; WT9.62

141.2 Alan Hall, Senior Scientific Officer at DIFS, told us that he could not recall seeing any damage to the parts of any of the four nail bombs that he examined that would have led him to conclude that it had been struck by a bullet; and that, as a matter of his general practice, he wasabsolutely confidentthat if a bomb had been struck he would have mentioned that fact.1Captain 127 told us that he could not recollect any damage to any of the nail bombs that he extracted from Gerald Donaghey’s clothing.2

1 Day 224/108-109 2Day 380/174

141.3 On the basis of this evidence, it seems reasonably certain that the bomb found in the left jacket pocket was not damaged by the bullet that passed through that pocket. The question therefore is whether this means that the bomb could not have been in the pocket when Gerald Donaghey was shot and thus must have been planted on him at a later stage. If that were the case, then although theoretically the other three bombs could have been on him when he was shot, this possibility is so remote that we consider it can safely be put on one side.

141.4 In his written evidence to this Inquiry, Alan Hall stated:1

“47. I have been referred to the handwritten notes of Dr Martin and in particular a sketch of the blue denim jacket of G Donaghy. The notes appear to indicate that Donaghy was struck by a bullet which passed through the lower left pocket of the denim jacket. I knew at the time that this was one of the pockets from which a nail bomb was retrieved. I have been asked how it was possible for a bullet to pass through the clothing of G Donaghy in the way described in the notes of Dr Martin if a nail bomb was placed in that pocket.

48. To establish whether or not this was possible, I recall placing item 12, the nail bomb taken from the left hand jacket pocket of G Donaghy into that pocket to test whether or not a bullet could have passed by without striking the nail bomb. I concluded that this was possible, although this was not necessarily easy to do. I think I concluded that it could only have occurred if the nail bomb was placed deep into the pocket, but was not possible if the nail bomb was half out of the pocket. I think I also discussed this issue with Dr Martin at the time, although I do not remember what Dr Martin’s view was at the time on this issue.

49. I was also concerned to establish that the nail bombs that were said to be in the jeans of Donaghy could in fact fit into the jeans. I therefore placed relevant nail bombs into the jeans. Once I had done this I was satisfied that the nail bombs could fit into the jeans. ”

1 D625

141.5 There are difficulties with this part of Alan Hall’s evidence.

141.6 In the first place, as already observed, he did not receive complete nail bombs, for the explosive cores and detonators had been removed, as his own report dated 15th February 1972 shows.1Alan Hall told this Inquiry that hesuspectedthat he had used something to make up the missing bulk, but he could not specifically recall doing so.2It is possible that he did use a roll of paper, since when Captain 127 was showing the bombs to Lord Widgery, he commented that although the explosive had been removed, someone had put in a roll of paper in its place. Even so, with the detonator and safety fuse in place, Captain 127 estimated that the bombs would be about ¼ inch fatter.3

1 D336

2 Day 224/117

3 WT9.60

141.7 In the second place, in his written statement to this Inquiry, Alan Hall referred to placingitem 12, the nail bomb taken from the left hand jacket pocketinto that pocket. In fact, item 12 of the items sent to Alan Hall described the remains of the bomb found in Gerald Donaghey’s left trouser pocket. The remains of the bomb removed from his left jacket pocket were the subject of item 15; and this bomb contained 1lb 14oz of nails, while the bomb in the left trouser pocket contained only 1lb 1oz of nails.1Alan Hall told this Inquiry that he was not sure how he came to identify item 12 as the bomb he used, but seemed sure that he had used the bomb that had been in the left jacket pocket.2

1 D350-351

2 Day 224/116

141.8 In the third place, Alan Hall’s report dated 15th February 1972 suggests that Captain 127 had cut open the jacket pockets in order to remove the nail bombs,1though it should be noted that Captain 127, in his evidence to the Widgery Inquiry, only said that he had cut open the right jacket pocket and was not asked whether he had done the same with the left jacket pocket.2In his evidence to us, Alan Hall said that he also tried to see whether the bombs would fit into the jeans pockets, one of which had also been cut open, and that he would have satisfied himself that the cut would not have interfered with his assessment.3Whether or not he did the same with the jacket pockets, the fact is that the left jacket pocket was not in the same state as it was when Captain 127 discovered the nail bomb. However, as appears below, it seems that some attempt had been made to repair the left jacket pocket by the time Captain 127 gave oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry, and this might have been done for the purpose of Alan Hall’s experiment.

1 D336

2 WT9.56-58; WT9.64

3 Day 224/136-137

141.9 There are no notes made at the time either of the test that Alan Hall said he made with the nail bomb in the left jacket pocket, or indeed of the test that he said he made to see whether the nail bombs would fit into the jeans pockets. He told this Inquiry that the tests that he conducted were neither a necessary nor a “formal ” part of his examination of the items supplied to DIFS, since he had been told that the bombs had been found in the pockets. He said that he merely wished to “find out for my own purposes ”, and in case this was something that might be asked of him, whether the damage to the jacket and the presence of the bomb could be reconciled.1

1 Day 224/131-135

141.10 Dr Martin said that he had had a conversation with Alan Hall about the question of whether the bullet could have passed through the left jacket pocket without striking the nail bomb, but could remember nothing about it save a remark that it wasa bit odd.1

1 Day 224/111

141.11 We have no reason to doubt that Alan Hall did try to see whether a nail bomb could fit into the left jacket pocket and escape damage from the bullet passing through that pocket, but, bearing in mind the difficulties that we have mentioned, we cannot accept that his evidence demonstrates that the bomb would have, or even was likely to have, escaped damage. As Dr John Lloyd pointed out,the precise position of the bomb in the pocket would, relative to the bullet hole, be an important point. We do not know precisely [what] the position of the bomb was.1In his report2Dr Lloyd had expressed the view thatThe bomb could have been at least damaged if not exploded by the bullet, if the bomb was present in the pocket at the time. On the evidence available, the bomb was undamaged.This cautiously expressed view equally does not demonstrate that the bomb would have been, or even was likely to have been, damaged by the bullet.

1 Day 227/52 2E1.59

141.12 Captain 127 demonstrated to Lord Widgery1 the insertion of the reconstituted nail bomb into the left jacket pocket, while acknowledging that the bomb in its original state would have been ¼ to ½ inch fatter. In order for this demonstration to have been meaningful, or even possible, it seems to us that the cut in the pocket that Captain 127 had made when he removed the bomb, which, as shown below, is illustrated in the DIFS notes,2 must have been repaired, and indeed Captain 127 confirmed in relation to the other jacket pocket that there was “white stitching ” where he had cut the pocket.

1 WT9.62-64 2 D358

141.13 When Captain 127 inserted the bomb in the course of his demonstration to Lord Widgery, it appears that it fitted into the pocket, but in such a way that the pocket was pulled open at the top. Captain 127 agreed that with the bomb in that position the fuse would have reached up to, or beyond, what James McSparran QC (counsel for the families) called the lapel of the pocket, although in fact these pockets had no lapels.1 That description is not specific enough in itself to assist us in determining whether a bullet that entered the pocket in the position illustrated in the DIFS notes2 would necessarily have hit a nail bomb if one had been there. However, if the position of the nail bomb, as demonstrated by Captain 127 to Lord Widgery, had been such as to align it directly with the bullet hole that must still have been evident on the jacket, we would have expected James McSparran QC to have picked up such an obvious and important point.

1 D358 2D358

141.14 In these circumstances, the fact that the bomb in the left jacket pocket was not damaged by the bullet passing through that pocket does not assist us in determining whether or not the bomb was there when Gerald Donaghey was shot.