Skip to main content

Suspect of IRA splinter group convicted of murdering two British soldiers

By Peter Taggart
updated 3:11 PM EST, Fri January 20, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Brian Shivers, 46, is sentenced to life in prison for killing two English soldiers
  • Co-defendant Colin Duffy, 44, is acquitted
  • Soldiers were killed in 2009 as they received a pizza delivered to their base gate

Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- A suspected member of an Irish Republican Army splinter group was found guilty Friday of murdering two soldiers outside a British army base in Northern Ireland almost three years ago.

Brian Shivers, 46, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of the murders as well as six counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

However, co-defendant Colin Duffy was acquitted of the same charges.

Two English soldiers, Patrick Azimkar, 21, and Mark Quinsey, 23, were killed outside Massereene Barracks in March 2009.

The off-duty and unarmed servicemen were ambushed with gunfire as they collected a pizza delivery at the front gate of the base, hours before they were due to leave for a tour of Afghanistan. They were the first members of the British security forces to be killed in Northern Ireland since the signing of the Good Friday peace agreement in 1998.

Other soldiers and the pizza delivery men were injured. The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the attack.

Shivers and Duffy both denied any involvement in the ambush during the non-jury trial at Antrim Crown Court.

Shivers' lawyer described him as an "unlikely terrorist." The court heard he had cystic fibrosis and had been told by a doctor he only had a few years to live.

However, evidence showed that Shivers' DNA was found on matches discovered in the getaway car, which the attackers unsuccessfully tried to destroy.

In his verdict Friday, Justice Anthony Hart said: "I am satisfied that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that Shivers set fire to the Cavalier at Ranaghan Road, and I therefore find him guilty on each count on the indictment."

The Cavalier was the getaway car.

Earlier on Friday, 44-year-old Duffy was cleared of all charges.

Hart said that while Duffy's DNA was found on a latex glove and a seatbelt buckle in the getaway car, that did not prove he was involved in the two murders and attempted murders.

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

Duffy had been charged with terrorist offenses in the past, but was never convicted.

He refused to answer questions from reporters Friday as he walked free from court to a waiting car. Pro-British protestors shouted angrily at him as he was driven away.

Police and relatives of the murdered soldiers then held a joint news conference, and the families said they were disappointed by the acquittal and knew others were involved in the ambush.

"A huge group of guilty people have yet to be brought to justice," said Jaime Quinsey, a sister of Mark Quinsey.

Patrick Azimkar's mother, Geraldine Ferguson, appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

Chief Superintendent Peter Farrar said officers were determined to find anyone involved in the murders.

CNN's Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT