Retrial for Clegg as conviction is quashed

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The Independent Online
A COURT yesterday quashed the conviction of Lee Clegg, the paratrooper whose life sentence for the murder of a Belfast teenager has been one of Ulster's most controversial cases of the last decade.

The Northern Ireland Court of Appeal ordered a retrial for the soldier who was convicted of the 1990 killing of 18-year-old Karen Reilly, who was shot dead while in the back seat of a stolen car. The driver, a 17- year-old youth, was also killed.

The car was hit by 19 bullets, four of which were fired by Pte Clegg, after it encountered 16 paratroopers who were engaged in an anti-joyriding patrol. He was convicted of murder in 1993 while five soldiers charged with him were acquitted.

Appeals were turned down by the same Court of Appeal and by the Lords. In 1995, however, he was released on licence after a short stay in jail, rejoining his regiment, gaining promotion to lance-corporal and becoming a PE instructor.

His release led one member of the Life Sentence Review Board to resign in protest, while it sparked rioting in republican areas of Belfast.

Last January the case was again referred to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal after campaigners produced new evidence which they described as "absolutely compelling". The campaign on his behalf, led by newspapers, was joined by senior military figures, while a petition for his release attracted two million signatures.

His relatives said yesterday they were disappointed about the re-run of the trial. The family of Karen Reilly called on the British and Irish governments to monitor the re-trial. Her father Sean said: "We are upset at the way Lee Clegg has continued to drag out the legal process. As a result, our nightmare at the death of our daughter has continued unabated."

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