Shivers refused bail before retrial
A terminally-ill man ordered to face a retrial after his convictions for murdering two British soldiers in Northern Ireland were quashed will remain in prison until the case is heard, judges have ruled.
A bail application for Brian Shivers was refused by the Court of Appeal in Belfast as it emerged that his lawyers are attempting to challenge today’s decision to order the new trial in the UK’s Supreme Court.
In refusing bail, the Appeal Court judges acknowledged the health issues facing the cystic fibrosis patient but said the risk of him offending was too high to release him from Maghaberry high security jail in Co Antrim.
The same court ruled yesterday that the convictions against the 47-year-old from Magherafelt, Co Derry, for the 2009 murders of soldiers Mark Quinsey (23) and Patrick Azimkar (21) outside Massereene army barracks in Antrim were unsafe.
This morning the three Appeal Court judges, among them Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, ordered a new trial following an application from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).
They said the move was in the public interest. The trial has been provisionally pencilled in for the start of March. Shivers, dressed in a checked jacket and jeans, sat impassively in court throughout the legal proceedings at the High Court.
Delivering guilty verdicts last January, judge Mr Justice Anthony Hart, who has now retired, drew on DNA evidence to find that Shivers set light to the getaway car used in the gun attack.
Quashing those convictions, the Appeal Court noted that Mr Justice Hart had found Shivers guilty of murder as a secondary party, not murder as part of a joint enterprise, which had been the case put forward by the Crown.
On that basis, the judges found, setting fire to the car after the shootings was not enough find him guilty.
For a secondary party conviction, they stressed the importance of when the defendant lent assistance to the shooters and the need to prove if he knew about the plot before the crime was committed.
They said that Mr Justice Hart had made no finding as to when Shivers had that knowledge.
The English soldiers were gunned down as they collected pizza outside the gates of the barracks. They were just hours away from deploying to Afghanistan. The Real IRA claimed responsibility.
High-profile republican Colin Duffy, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, was acquitted of the murder charges at the same trial that saw Shivers convicted at Antrim Crown Court last year and ordered to serve at least 25 years.
His appeal against additional convictions on six counts of attempted murder and one of possession of two firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life was also allowed. He will face another trial on all the original counts.