No justice for my son, says mum of murdered soldier
THE mother of one of the soldiers gunned down by terrorists outside Massereene army barracks has angrily accused Northern Ireland's justice system of failing victims, after the only person jailed for her son's murder had his conviction quashed.
Geraldine Azimkar, whose 21 year-old son Patrick was shot dead alongside his friend sapper Mark Quinsey (23) outside the Antrim base in March 2009, said it was "scandalous" that nobody had been held to account for the dissident republican attack.
The Court of Appeal ruled that the verdict against Brian Shivers (47) – who was last year found guilty of the murders of Sappers Quinsey and Azimkar and the attempted murders of six others – was unsafe.
Mr Shivers's DNA was found on matches and a mobile phone discovered in the car used by the gunmen.
Last year the trial judge said he was satisfied that Mr Shivers had set fire to the car and therefore found him guilty of the murders and attempted murders under the joint enterprise rule.
However, the Court of Appeal said that no finding was made about when Mr Shivers allegedly became aware of the murder plot. The judges concluded they did not accept that "a person who provides assistance after a murder with full knowledge of what has happened thereby becomes guilty of murder".
Mr Shivers was kept in custody to allow the Public Prosecution Service some time to decide whether to seek a retrial.
Mrs Azimkar said that the Court of Appeal's decision had left her and Patrick's father, Mehmet Azimkar, disillusioned with the justice system.
"It seems scandalous that this terrible murder happened and the attempted murders happened and it looks like no one is going to be held to account.
"We feel very let down by the criminal justice system. It does not seem to work for the victims of crime. The whole thing is awful from start to finish."
She praised the police and PPS for their efforts, but blamed the justice system for failing victims and their loved ones.
"It is very highly loaded in favour of the defendant and therefore against the interests of victims and their loved ones.
"We feel there is no justice and it is going to be very hard to get peace in Northern Ireland when they see there is no justice," she said.
The chairman of Stormont's justice committee, Paul Givan, said that the soldiers' families, the other victims and the public would want every avenue pursued by police and the legal bodies to ensure justice.
"The wider community will be asking how did this go so wrong," Mr Givan added.