Northern Ireland

Massereene accused Brian Shivers 'condemned killings'

A man facing trial over the murder of two soldiers at Massereene Barracks in Antrim in 2009 condemned the killings at the time, a court has been told.

The claim was made by the girlfriend of Brian Shivers, 47.

Mr Shivers denies the murders of sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London.

He also denies the attempted murder of six others, including two other soldiers and two civilians.

Ms Lisa Leecock told the court that when Mr Shivers returned to the home they shared in Magherafelt, County Londonderry, after attending a party in Belfast, they spoke about the shooting after learning about it on the internet.

She agreed with a defence lawyer that Mr Shivers described it as "terrible news and was concerned that the troubles would start up again. Brian said it was awful news, and he condemned it".

DNA traces

Mr Shivers' condemnation, said Ms Leecock, was "genuine". She also agreed that despite their differing religious background they had no interest in politics.

"I would say he (Brian) had no interest in politics. I had none either," she told the court, adding that she never heard Mr Shivers say anything either in support or against republicans, Protestants or the British and that it "never formed any part of their relationship".

Earlier the court heard that the prosecution's top forensic DNA expert cannot say how, where and when Shivers DNA got on a number items which, it is claimed, link him with the gunmen's Vauxhall Cavalier getaway car.

They included traces of his DNA recovered from two spent matchsticks and a mobile phone, found inside the blue car, and another spent match discovered on the roadway nearby.

During a second day of cross-examination concerning the two matches recovered from the backseat of the car, the expert accepted he could not "describe how these (DNA traces) were left, whether by touch or transfer".

The scientist further agreed that he couldn't say whose DNA profile had been the last to be left on them, nor "whether one of those profiles related to the person who struck the match".

Turning to the mobile phone, recovered from the central console, the defence QC said accepting Mr Shivers' profile was one of those found, it was difficult to say that his was the last to be left on the phone that evening.

The expert said he could not say if the DNA was left, "days before or weeks before or over a month before or indeed under what circumstances" it was deposited.

Asked about the number of possible "contributors" to the profiles obtained, the scientist said the low mixed profiles could have come from "three individuals, or possibly could be four or five".

The court also heard that while DNA profiles were recovered from a petrol can, found in a nearby field, and from bags found inside a holdall in the boot of the car, none matched Mr Shivers.

The trial continues.