In the courts: Protest disrupts murder appeal of paratrooper

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A protest by the brother of a terrorist murder victim yesterday interrupted the opening of a fresh appeal by paratrooper Lee Clegg against his murder conviction.

Roger Dillon, whose brother Seamus was shot dead last month by the Loyalist Volunteer Force outside a hotel in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, shouted: "Clegg should be locked away and never be released." Mr Dillon claimed that there had been a cover-up by the Royal Ulster Constabulary over his brother's murder.

"There is no justice for nationalists - you have to be a policeman or a soldier," he told the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal in Belfast. Lord Chief Justice Sir Robert Carswell told Mr Dillon: "You have made your protest - leave quietly." He was escorted from the court by two RUC officers.

Lance-Corporal Clegg, 30, of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was jailed for life in 1993 for murdering 18-year-old Karen Reilly, a passenger in a stolen car that crashed through a West Belfast road block in 1990. He lost two appeals but was released after serving just over two years and is now back with his regiment.

L/Cpl Clegg is appealing against his conviction. He claims that he did not shoot any of the 19 bullets fired by soldiers after the car passed him. The case was referred back to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal by former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Sir Patrick Mayhew after he was presented with new forensic evidence.

L/Cpl Clegg's legal adviser, Simon McKay, who spoke to him before the hearing, said: "He was optimistic that eventually we will prove the truth of the shooting. As far as Lee Clegg is concerned he never fired after the car passed him."

The first of the new defence witnesses to be called was Dr Graham Renshaw, a ballistics expert, who carried out firing tests on a car similar to the one in which Ms Reilly was a back-seat passenger. L/Cpl Clegg's defence team, led by Anthony Scrivener QC, have compiled a three-minute video reconstruction of the shooting which they believe will lead to his acquittal.

About 30 members of Saoirse, the republican prisoners' group, staged a protest outside the court. The hearing continues.