William Hughes

Lost Lives

The stories of the men, women and children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland troubles

By David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton and David McVea


Monday 22 May 1972

William Francis Hughes, Tyrone

Catholic, Civilian, 56, married with a family

He was shot by the IRA, who apparently thought they were firing at police officers, as he sat in a car outside the Catholic parochial house in Moortown. A priest told the inquest that four people had an appointment with him at the parochial house at 7.45pm. Three had remained in the car while one went inside with him. The priest said that when their conversation was interrupted by the sound of gunfire he ran to the front door to see the stationary car being sprayed by bullets. Two of the occupants were shouting: ‘It is not a police car, it is not a police car.’

William Hughes’ daughter was with her father in the car. She told the inquest: ‘We crawled up to the back of the car. All this time there was shooting going on. The bullets were going into the car. I felt a pain in my back but I didn’t realise I had been hit by a bullet. I never discovered until afterwards that I had been hit in the left wrist as well. As we crouched behind the car my father was hit by a bullet which killed him.’ The car’s owner said he had been conscious of the fact that the vehicle, a blue Ford Escort, had wing mirrors and a roof aerial which made it look like a police car. It was hit by 29 bullets. Guns were found later at Ardboe. William Hughes came from Derrygortreavy near Dungannon.

In 1982, ten years after the incident, a Coalisland man, Seamus Dillon, was given life imprisonment for killing William Hughes and for the murder of Constable William Logan who was shot dead near the town in March 1972. The same man was acquitted of the murder of a soldier, Private John Rudman, killed in September 1971. Seamus Dillon was killed during a spate of loyalist attacks following the death of Billy Wright in December 1997.

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