Dying man gets 25 years for role in soldiers' murder
POLICE have launched a fresh bid to catch the gunmen who killed two British soldiers in Northern Ireland, as a terminally ill man convicted of trying to torch their getaway car was told he must serve a minimum of 25 years in jail.
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 the 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 yesterday 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, were gunned down in March 2009 by dissident republicans.
The judge said: "I am satisfied that appropriate arrangements are being put in place to provide the necessary medical care which Shivers will require in the future.''
He said Shivers was deemed to be a secondary party to the killings, responsible for making a failed effort to burn out the getaway car.
But he added: "Whilst he played a lesser role than the gunmen and the driver of the attack car, by being at Ranaghan Road and setting fire to the car, he played a prominent and essential role in this carefully planned and ruthlessly executed crime."
The judge quoted from victim impact statements presented to the court.
Sapper Quinsey's mother, Pamela, said: "A mother thinks she will hold her child's hand for the rest of her life. Now my hand is empty and lost."
Sapper Azimkar's mother, Geraldine, said: "We have all changed, all aged, our hearts and souls are no longer light but weighed down with sorrow and loss."
Outside court yesterday, senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Justyn Galloway said police were continuing to hunt for the rest of the murder gang.
He released a recording of a phone call made by the killers shortly after the attack and appealed for the public's help in tracking them down.
"The investigation is continuing because it is our duty to bring as many of those individuals who were involved in this atrocity before the court," he said.
Shivers's co-accused, Colin Duffy (44) from Lurgan, Co Armagh, was acquitted of the murder charges in the non-jury trial at Antrim Crown Court.