Soldiers tell of efforts to save teenager as Lee Clegg's retrial for murder continues

 

British soldiers on patrol with Lee Clegg on the night he is accused of murdering a Belfast teenager in a stolen car told a court yesterday of the frantic attempts they made to save the teenager.

The paratroopers described how they tended 18-year-old Karen Reilly's wounds with field bandages and gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

They were giving evidence on the second day of Clegg's retrial for murder at Belfast Crown Court.

Clegg (30) sat impassively in the dock listening to members of his patrol describe the events of September 30th, 1990, when he opened fire on a stolen car on the Glen Road in west Belfast.

Sgt Stephen Gilbert told the court the teenager, who was shot in the back, was still breathing when taken out of the car.

"She was obviously unconscious and bleeding heavily," said Sgt Gilbert, a corporal at the time of the shooting.

"Two soldiers were giving the girl first aid. She was breathing at that stage, and we tried to stanch the flow of blood with field dressings."

The soldiers then tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as her condition worsened.

Ms Reilly's father, Sean, sat in the back of the court, at times with his head in his hands, as his daughter's last moments were described.

Cpl Dean Clifton, then a lance corporal, found the driver, Martin Peake (17), dead inside the car.

Clegg was convicted in 1993 of murdering Ms Reilly.

He had opened fire on the car with other members of his patrol after they formed a road block on the Glen Road to stop stolen cars.

It was never established who fired the bullet which killed Martin Peake.

The soldier was freed on licence in 1995 after he had served less than four years of a life sentence and went on to win the chance to clear his name in February when the Northern Ireland Appeal Court quashed his conviction and ordered a retrial.

Clegg, who has since been promoted from private to corporal, faces a new mandatory life sentence if found guilty a second time at the current hearing, which is expected to last six weeks.

But legal sources say it is highly unlikely he would be returned to jail.