The Belfast High Court has awarded a leading Belfast Republican almost twenty eight thousand pounds. The award was for injuries he received when shot by a British soldier, at the funeral of the Shankill bomber Thomas Begley, five years ago. The court rejected a claim by the British Ministry of Defence that it could not be held liable for the soldier’s actions.

Eddie Copeland, a leading republican figure in north Belfast was shot while attending the wake of the Shankill bomber, Thomas Begley. Copeland was standing outside Begleys home in Ardoyne when a British soldier in a passing land Rover fired twenty shots at a group of mourners. Copeland was hit twice, seriously wounded and required extensive surgery. The soldier who fired the shots, Trooper Andrew Clarke, was later jailed for ten years for attempted murder.

Rejecting the Defence Ministry’s claim that it could not be held liable, the judge said that, when the state sends out a soldier or police officer armed with a lethal weapon and he fires that weapon injuring a third party in circumstances which are not authorised, and there is no justification, as in the present case, the state should be liable for any loss or damage. The judge said that he considered £27,500 as adequate. He dismissed Copeland’s claim for exemplary damages.