Northern Ireland

Reaction to Brian Shivers verdict

Brian Shivers
Image caption Brian Shivers has been cleared in a retrial of all charges relating to the murders of two soldiers in 2009

A man originally convicted of the Real IRA murders of two soldiers in 2009 has been found not guilty in a retrial.

Brian Shivers, 47, had been jailed for killing sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, of Birmingham, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, of London, at Massereene barracks, Antrim.

Mr Shivers was also cleared of several other charges including six counts of attempted murder.

He had been convicted of the offences in January 2012 but was retried after a successful appeal.

Geraldine Azimkar, soldier's mother

The mother of sapper Patrick Azimkar, the soldier shot dead outside Massereene barracks, has spoken of her disbelief at the judge's verdict.

Geraldine Azimkar said: "We are just in shock. It is like Patrick's life did not matter."

"I do not know how we will try and pull ourselves out of this. We already had to go through it four years ago when we saw the other man walk free from court.

"Now after four years of waiting we see another man walk free. Anybody who has had their child murdered will know it is a very difficult thing to deal with," she said.

Speaking from her home at Wood Green in north London, Mrs Azimkar said that news of Brian Shivers' acquittal had been broken to the family through their dedicated police liaison officer.

She said they had not been prepared for the outcome.

"We weren't expecting it. It was a complete shock. If the people who did this do not bear the burden of what they have done, then the burden falls to us and we are already trying to bear the burden of the loss of our child.

"It is not that the police did a poor investigation. It was good, it was professional," said Mrs Azimkar.

She said the family continues to struggle with their heartache.

"I have no idea where we go from here. I just have to pray and hope we will find peace again. It is very hard to come to terms with Patrick's loss when not a single person has been held to account. It is as if his life did not matter, that the criminals are more important.

Niall Murphy, solicitor for Brian Shivers

While Mr Shivers did not comment outside court, his solicitor Niall Murphy read out a short, prepared statement on behalf of his client, in which he said that despite the victory for his client it was "not a moment of celebration".

"It must be remembered that there are two families that are still grieving and several people still suffering from their injuries.

"That being said, Brian Shivers has suffered the horror of having been wrongfully convicted in what now must be described as a miscarriage of justice.

"He was convicted of the most serious charges on the criminal calendar.

"He was sentenced to a life term imprisonment, which would have seen him die in prison.

"The original conviction was overturned on a narrow legal basis.

"It was only during his re-trial that important new material was disclosed which completely undermined the case against him.

"This failed prosecution - another failed prosecution - is a cautionary tale against the reliance upon tenuous scientific evidence in high profile criminal cases."

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