Loyalist Clarke sentenced to 25 years for Fusco murder

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Sectarian murder victim Alfredo Fusco and his bride on their wedding day
Image caption,
Sectarian murder victim Alfredo Fusco and his bride on their wedding day

A loyalist given a life sentence for a sectarian murder nearly 40 years ago, has been set a minimum tariff of 25 years.

Robert James Clarke, 58, denied shooting 53-year-old Alfredo Fusco in his York Road cafe in 1973.

In February 2011 Clarke was convicted of murder and of possessing the two guns used in the attack.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Clarke is likely to be released after two years in custody.

The case was reopened by the Historical Enquiries Team after new fingerprint technology allowed them to identify Clarke as the gunman who left his prints on Mr Fusco's cafe door.

On Friday, the judge, Mr Justice McLaughlin, set the minimum tariff at 25 years but told Clarke: "I am fully conscious of the fact that the effect of the Northern Ireland Sentences Act which was introduced as part of the Belfast agreement, if applicable in your case, will result in you serving nothing like that".

Mr Fusco was shot dead by Clarke at his cafe. The judge said he was a completely innocent man working to support his wife and family, serving the public without discrimination and giving offence to no one.

He said he had been singled out for assassination in a brutal and terrifying manner.

Clarke has already served 16 years in jail for a murder committed two years after Mr Fusco was killed.