Saturday 3 December 2016

Barracks slaughter shown to trial

CCTV recorded Real IRA ambush of unarmed soldiers

Steven McCaffery

Published 08/11/2011 | 05:00

Chilling video footage played yesterday at the trial of two men for the murders of two British soldiers showed the moment the soldiers were gunned down by masked attackers.

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Sappers Patrick Azimkar (21), from London, and Mark Quinsey (23), from Birmingham, were ambushed by the Real IRA outside the Massereene army barracks in Antrim town on March 7, 2009.

High-profile republican Colin Duffy (43), from Forest Glade in Lurgan, Co Armagh, and Brian Shivers (46), from Sperrin Mews in Magherafelt, Co Derry, deny charges of murder and attempted murder.

The trial opened at Antrim Crown Court yesterday and the packed room fell silent as CCTV images of the murders were played.

As Terence Mooney opened the prosecution's case, he told how the habit of collecting pizzas at the gates of the base had left the troops vulnerable to attack.

He played the footage, which showed five soldiers, wearing desert combat gear and only hours away from being deployed to Afghanistan, walk out of the base to meet pizza delivery cars.

Two masked men then appeared, opening fire on the soldiers and the fast-food workers, before pausing to aim at what the prosecution said were wounded men on the ground.

Mr Mooney later played an audio clip of a voice message said to have been accidentally left on a mobile phone found in a green Vauxhall car, believed to have been the getaway vehicle.

"The message is chilling and self-explanatory," he told the judge, Mr Justice Anthony Hart.

The court then heard an audio clip of a male voice: "There were a few dead all right."

A later excerpt added: "Have to say boys, you were as cool as f***."

The parents of the murdered men were in court and wore remembrance poppies.

Tearful

As the hearing opened, Mrs Azimkar and a tearful Mrs Quinsey comforted each other.

Mr Shivers, who is on bail because he suffers from cystic fibrosis, wore jeans and a dark coat.

Prison officers escorted Mr Duffy into the court. He is being held on remand at Maghaberry prison in Co Antrim, where he is involved in a so-called "no wash" protest.

Mr Duffy, who wore a long beard as a result, smiled and gave a thumbs-up to his family as proceedings began.

Mr Mooney opened the case for the prosecution and detailed the events of the night of the attack, which claimed the lives of the two soldiers and left others at the scene seriously injured.

"On March 7, 2009, a surprise and murderous attack was carried out by terrorists using automatic assault rifles," he said.

"The targets were unsuspecting and utterly defenceless soldiers and civilians who were gathered at the entrance gates to the base.

"The nature of the attack and the manner in which it was executed bears the unmistakable stamp of a highly organised and ruthless terrorist attack."

He suggested to the court that relatives of the murdered soldiers might wish to leave prior to the screening of the footage of the shootings.

Both grieving mothers left before the images were shown.

Mr Mooney said: "The evidence will show that an ad hoc and rather disorganised system for delivering food to the barracks had evolved over time."

He added that security at the camp had become relaxed.

The lawyer said soldiers at the base phoned around 20 orders a week to local fast food outlets and, in particular, a pizza delivery shop in the town.

The court saw photographs taken in the immediate aftermath of the attack which showed the base had high fencing and its entrance had a protected sentry post. But troops would often be outside the base talking to delivery staff.

On the night of the killings, Mr Mooney said the masked gunmen approached the troops as they discussed their order with two delivery men.

The killers fired 65 rounds in an attack that CCTV showed lasted for around one minute.

Mr Mooney said: "Chillingly, the gunmen moved in and shot some of their victims as they lay on the ground."

He said a pathologist's report showed the soldiers killed in the shootings suffered multiple bullet and shrapnel wounds.

Those injured included three soldiers, a security guard and the pizza delivery men.

Expert analysis had linked the images of the getaway car to a vehicle found by police seven miles from the scene, Mr Mooney said.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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