Brian Shivers Found Guilty And Colin Duffy Acquitted Of Massereene Murders, Antrim Court Finds

Republican Colin Duffy Cleared Over Massereene Murders

High-profile republican Colin Duffy has been acquitted at Antrim Crown Court of murdering two British soldiers outside an Army base in Northern Ireland.

The 44-year-old was acquitted of the killings of Sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London, and Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham, who were ambushed by gunmen from the dissident republican Real IRA at the gates of Massereene barracks in Antrim on 7 March 2009.

But a second defendant, Brian Shivers, 46, from Sperrin Mews in Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, was found guilty of the same charges.

Duffy's DNA was found on a latex glove tip inside the car and on a seat buckle but he said the prosecution had failed to link the defendant to the murder plot.

Judge Anthony Hart told the court that he was satisfied that Duffy's DNA was found on a latex glove tip inside the car and on a seat buckle but he said the prosecution had failed to link the defendant to the murder plot.

He said: "I consider that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy me beyond reasonable doubt that whatever Duffy may have done when he wore the latex glove, or touched the seatbelt buckle, meant that he was preparing the car in some way for this murderous attack. And I therefore find him not guilty."

The non-jury trial lasted six weeks. It ended just before Christmas and Justice Hart took four weeks to consider his verdicts.

The soldiers from the 38 Engineer Regiment were about to begin a tour of duty in Afghanistan when they were gunned down in an attack by republican extremists opposed to the Good Friday peace deal of 1998.

The victims, who were wearing their desert fatigues and were within hours of leaving the base, were collecting pizzas at the front gate when they came under fire.

Four other people, including two pizza delivery drivers, were injured in the gun attack.

A green Vauxhall Cavalier car thought to have been used by the gang was found abandoned in a rural location eight miles away.

The gunmen set light to the car, but it did not burn out. DNA evidence recovered from it formed the basis for the trial of the two accused.

It is the second time Duffy has been cleared of murder.

The 44-year-old first hit the headlines 20 years ago after he was cleared of an IRA murder.

An IRA gunman on a bicycle shot former soldier John Lyness, 57, in Lurgan in June 1993.

Duffy, described in court as an unemployed labourer, was subsequently convicted of the murder. But the prosecution case hinged on the testimony of anonymous witnesses who gave evidence from behind a curtain - and in particular on the evidence of a man known only as Witness C.

He turned out to be Lindsay Robb, who was subsequently jailed after police in Scotland smashed a UVF gun-running plot in July 1995.

Following a public campaign for his release, backed by nationalist political leaders in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, Duffy's conviction was quashed because the prosecution could no longer rely on a star witness publicly revealed to be a loyalist paramilitary.

Duffy walked from the Court of Appeal in Belfast a free man and later gave an impromptu press conference outside the gates of the High Court, alleging police wrongdoing and insisting he was innocent.


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