Terminally ill man gets 25 years for Real IRA's Massereene murders

 

A terminally ill man has been sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in jail for the murder of two soldiers in Northern Ireland.

Brian Shivers, 46, from Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, who was part of the Real IRA gang that murdered Sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21, and Mark Quinsey, 23, outside Massereene Barracks, is suffering from cystic fibrosis and has an estimated four to five years to live.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment last month and yesterday at Belfast Crown Court Mr Justice Anthony Hart told him he would have to spend at least 25 years in prison before he could be considered for release.

His co-accused, Colin Duffy, 44, from Lurgan, was acquitted of the charges at the trial last month at Antrim Crown Court.

Sapper Quinsey, from Birmingham, and Sapper Azimkar, from London, both serving with 38 Engineer Regiment, were about to leave for a tour in Afghanistan in March 2009 when they were gunned down by republicans.

The judge said: "I am satisfied that appropriate arrangements are being put in place to provide the necessary medical care which Shivers will require in the future.

"Those involved in this very grave crime must receive appropriate punishment."

He said Shivers was deemed to be a secondary party to the killings, responsible for trying to burn out the getaway car.

But he added: "Whilst he played a lesser role than the gunmen and the driver of the attack car, by being at Ranaghan Road and setting fire to the car, he played a prominent and essential role in this carefully planned and ruthlessly executed crime."

Police have renewed their appeal for information about the murders.