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Wednesday 16 April 2014

Old Bailey bomber Marian Price spared jail

Old Bailey bomber Marian McGlinchey – formerly known as Marian Price

OLD Bailey bomber Marian McGlinchey – formerly known as Marian Price - has avoided a return to jail after being handed a suspended sentence for dissident republican terror offences, one linked to the murder of two British soldiers.

McGlinchey, who was given a life term in 1973 for her part in the bomb attack on the London court, last year plead guilty to providing a mobile phone to the Real IRA gang that gunned down the soldiers outside Massereene Army barracks in Antrim in 2009 and, two years later, aiding and abetting a masked man who read out a Real IRA statement advocating violence against police officers.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC today sentenced the 59-year-old to a total of 12 months' imprisonment for both offences - concurrent sentences of 12 months for providing the phone and nine months for assisting the dissident statement.

But the judge told Belfast Crown Court he was suspending the sentence for three years.

At a pre-sentence hearing last month, a lawyer for the republican, from Stockmans Avenue in west Belfast, had claimed another jail term would exacerbate her chronic physical and mental health problems.

In the wake of the incident in 2011, when she held a speech for the man at a republican rally in a Londonderry cemetery, then Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson revoked her life sentence release licence, which had been imposed when she was freed after serving seven years for the Old Bailey attack.

She was re-released by Parole Commissioners last year on health grounds. In the latter part of that two-year stint in custody she was held in a hospital mental health unit setting.

Judge Kerr said her deteriorating health was one factor he had considered when suspending the sentence, as well his assessment that McGlinchey posed a low risk of re-offending and the fact that she had served a period of custody in respect of the breach of her licence conditions.

At the time of the cemetery incident, McGlinchey was secretary of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.

English sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21, and Mark Quinsey, 23, were shot dead outside the gates of the Massereene military base in Antrim in March 2009.

The soldiers were hours from deploying to Afghanistan and already dressed in desert fatigues.

They had emerged from the barracks to collect pizzas when two Real IRA gunmen opened fire. Two pizza delivery drivers and two other soldiers were injured in the attack.

The subsequent police investigation found that McGlinchey had been filmed on a supermarket CCTV system buying a pay-as-you-go mobile phone that was ultimately used to claim responsibility for the outrage.

Two men - high-profile republican Colin Duffy, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, and Brian Shivers, from Magherafelt, Co Derry - have previously been acquitted of the murders after standing trial. Shivers' acquittal came after an appeal.

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Serious Crime Branch said a number of people played a part in events before, during and after the Massereene murders.

"Despite today's sentencing, and previous acquittals, the investigation remains open," he said.

"Police would appeal to anyone with any information about those involved in these murders to contact them."

In 1973 McGlinchey was convicted along with her sister Dolours Price for their role in the car bomb attack earlier that year on the Old Bailey, which resulted in the death of one man from a heart attack and injured more than 200.

Dolours Price died in Dublin last year.

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