Northern Ireland

Judgement reserved in Fusco case

Scales of Justice
Image caption Robert James Clarke denies murdering Alfredo Fusco

Judgement has been reserved in the trial of a convicted loyalist killer who denies the sectarian murder of Belfast chip shop owner Alfredo Fusco in 1973.

Belfast Crown Court judge Mr Justice McLaughlin told Robert James Clarke, 58, from Dundrod Road, Nutts Corner, that he would give his ruling in the New Year.

Clarke, who was released on continuing bail, was arrested in August last year after a review of the case by the Historical Enquiry Team.

They were able, for the first time, to identitify Clarke's palm and finger prints which had been found on the door through which Mr Fusco was shot.

The defence claim there must be "an innocent explanation" for his prints being on the door, but because of the lapse in time, Clarke is unable to recollect what it could be.

He said he had always maintained, "he had not shot Mr Fusco".

The prosecution claim that Clarke was the gunman, armed with a Sterling type sub-machine gun, who chased Mr Fusco to the rear storeroom of his York Road cafe where he tried to barricade himself behind the door.

Clarke has said he could not be the gunman as he would have been unable to fire a such a weapon, having lost two fingers in an industrial accident while working in England some years earlier.

His trial heard that in 1976, Clarke was convicted with others of the sectarian drive-by shooting of 58-year-old Newlodge Road woman Margaret O'Neill in June 1975.

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