Clegg seeks formal court acquittal

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The Independent Online
THE CASE of paratrooper Lee Clegg, who was jailed for life for the murder of a Belfast teenager, entered a new phase yesterday when his retrial opened at the Northern Ireland High Court.

Cpl Clegg is seeking to clear his name by securing an acquittal in the case, which arose from the killing of 18-year-old Karen Reilly, who was shot dead in a stolen car in west Belfast in 1990.

The retrial is expected to centre on ballistics evidence said to throw new light on the incident. Cpl Clegg has already been granted early release, allowed to stay in the Army and received promotion. In February of this year, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial.

The case assumed political significance when it was taken up by a number of newspapers, with a petition for the soldier's release that attracted 2 million signatures in Britain. In Belfast, by contrast, nationalists and human rights groups have claimed the soldier has received preferential treatment, and the court was yesterday picketed by protesters. Ms Reilly's father, Sean, said the family felt they were back to square one, adding: "We feel very, very bitter about this."

Opening the crown case, Reginald Weir QC said ballistic tests had shown that the bullet found in Ms Reilly's body was fired from the paratrooper's rifle. He said Cpl Clegg and the other soldiers had no justification for firing at the car.

"It is the prosecution's case that this car presented no danger to these soldiers and that this must have been quite clear to them when they opened fire. Notwithstanding that they could see that it was presenting no danger to them, shots were discharged by them at the car."

The case continues.