Video: Man with 5 years to live gets 25 years for killing soldiers
A TERMINALLY-ill man must serve a minimum of 25 years in jail for the murders of two soldiers shot dead by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland, a judge ruled today.
Brian Shivers, 46, from Magherafelt, Co Derry, who was part of the Real IRA gang that murdered Sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21 and Mark Quinsey, 23, outside Massereene military barracks, is suffering from cystic fibrosis and has an estimated four to five years to live.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment last month and today at Belfast Crown Court Mr Justice Anthony Hart told him he would have to spend at least 25 years in prison before he could be considered for release.
Sapper Quinsey, from Birmingham, and Sapper Azimkar, from London, both serving with 38 Engineer Regiment, were about to leave for a tour in Afghanistan in March 2009 when they were gunned down by republican assassins opposed to the Good Friday peace deal.
Shivers was dressed in dark jeans and a grey striped jumper.
Previously clean-shaven, he wore a beard, and smiled and waved to relatives in the court.
He remained silent as the judge detailed the reasons for the jail term.
Justice Hart said a letter from health service officials confirmed they believed Shivers can receive the medical treatment he requires while behind bars.
Staff at Maghaberry Prison are also to receive additional training in dealing with cystic fibrosis.
The court was told that Shivers' condition should not influence sentencing in the circumstances.
Justice Hart said that if the dissident republican's condition worsened, it would be a matter for the prison authorities and the Minister for Justice.
The judge added: "Those involved in the attack were determined to kill as many soldiers and others as they could."
He cited the injuries and trauma suffered by those at the scene and said some of those wounded and murdered had been fired on as they lay injured on the ground.
"This was an extremely grave crime, and there is no dispute that it was a terrorist attack.
"That was confirmed, if it needed to be, by the claim of responsibility on behalf of the Real IRA, and the use of the two weapons involved in other terrorist attacks."
He said of Shivers: "Those who carry out such heinous crimes would not be able to do so without the assistance of others who play a vital part in helping the main participants to escape afterwards and conceal or destroy evidence."
Outside the court, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway said the hunt for the remainder of the gang would continue.