| 23.4°C Dublin

Massereene accused is unlikely terrorist court told

A MAN accused of murdering two soldiers is a highly unlikely terrorist, a court heard today.

Brian Shivers has never committed any criminal offences and has a limited lifespan because he is suffering from cystic fibrosis, his barrister told the court.

Shivers and Colin Duffy deny the murder of Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar, who were shot outside their army base in Antrim.

Patrick O'Connor QC told Belfast Crown Court sitting in Antrim: "Brian Shivers is a highly unlikely terrorist.

"He is 46 years old and has never committed a criminal offence in his life. He has a lack of propensity to offend and is credible as a witness in his own defence."

Sappers Quinsey, 23, and Azimkar, 21, were shot dead by the Real IRA as they collected pizzas with comrades outside Massereene Army base in Antrim town in March 2009.

Duffy, 44, from Forest Glade in Lurgan, Co Armagh, and Shivers, 46, from Sperrin Mews, in Derry, deny two charges of murder and the attempted murder of six others - three soldiers, two pizza delivery drivers and a security guard.

Mr Shivers has admitted attending meetings of republican socialist group Eirigi but said he never joined and supports the peace process.

Mr O'Connor added: "With all these powers and opportunities the Crown has been unable to place before you any sign of a political motive or a commitment which could lie behind this."

He said his client had serious medical difficulties.

"Mr Shivers is someone who lives under the shadow of a limited lifespan for medical reasons," he added.

He said that in no way does that mean that he is necessarily innocent or could not have committed the offences but added it would tend to have a "sobering effect" on a man's approach to life.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

"It renders it less likely that he should suddenly out of the blue engage in some mad terrorist adventure," he added.

He said the amount of DNA evidence linking his client to a mobile phone and matchsticks in the getaway car was tiny.

"The fact that every one of the traces attributed to Mr Shivers are low template DNA and each of them has a sign that there maybe at least one other contributor, it is a very fragile exercise indeed," Mr O'Connor added.

Most Watched