John Boyle (SAS victim)

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David Miller writes:

The next month the SAS killed 16 year old John Boyle, the day after Boyle had stumbled upon an arms cache in a local graveyard. He rushed home to tell his father, who phoned the police. It seems that Boyle returned to the graveyard the next day out of curiosity, whereupon he was shot by the SAS, who had the graveyard staked out.
The first statement [from the army] said a patrol spotted three men acting suspiciously and when challenged one pointed a rifle at them. One of the soldiers then fired five shots killing John Boyle. The second statement said only one man was present and he pointed a rifle at the soldiers when challenged; later two other men came to the scene [these were Boyle's Father and brother] and they were arrested and handed over to the police. The third statement said no challenge was made to the man, that this was impracticable as he was 10 yards from them pointing a rifle in their direction (Murray 1990:232).
The Army statement added that 'the rifle was later found with its magazine fitted and ready to fire' (cited in Curtis 1984a:77). In fact, the Boyles had no paramilitary connections and the rifle was unloaded. The SAS men were tried and acquitted of murder, but the judge, Lord Lowry, declared that he was unable to decide if Boyle had picked up the rifle. Lowry stated that the SAS statement was 'self justificatory, and, in the context of the Boyle family's reputation, untrue' (cited in Urban 1992:65).[1]


  1. David Miller (1994) Northern Ireland Information Service: Misinformation, excerpt from Don't Mention the War, London:Pluto.