Irish Republican News · May 3, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Brian Shivers cleared of all charges
Brian Shivers cleared of all charges

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Brian Shivers has been cleared in a retrial of all charges relating to a Real IRA attack in 2009 at Massereene British army base in which two British soldiers died.

He was controversially convicted of killing the two soldiers in January 2012. His co-accused in the original trial, prominent Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, was found innocent at that time.

The only evidence which had been presented to link Mr Shivers to the attack was a controversial ultra-low-copy DNA test on a mobile phone, as well as a piece of matchstick said to have been used to set fire to the getaway vehicle.

The Magherafelt man, who suffers from advanced cystic fibrosis, secured a retrial after an appeal court accepted that he could not have carried out the murder for which he was convicted, and rejected a ‘common cause’ argument advanced by the prosecution for the charge.

Fearing that his conviction would be overturned in the retrial, prosecutors had in recent months brought lesser charges, but these were also dismissed today.

In Belfast Crown Court this afternoon, the judge said the prosecution case against Mr Shivers had been based entirely on circumstantial evidence. Mr Justice Deeny said the alleged DNA links between Mr Shivers to the items presented as evidence might have been entirely innocent.

He said he asked himself whether the prosecution had eliminated other possibilities than the guilt of the accused as they were obliged to do, and whether he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of Mr Shivers’ guilt.

He concluded that the answer to both questions was “clearly no” and found him not guilty.

The verdict has added to pressure for the resignation of Barra McGrory, the chief Crown prosecutor who spearheaded British efforts to jail an innocent man who is terminally ill.

Since his appointment, McGrory has presided over a series of wrongful prosecutions of republicans and miscarriages of justice, and has also played a role in the internment of high profile republican Marian Price. This week also saw questions raised over his role in an apparent attempt by prosecutors to subvert an appeal against two other controversial IRA convictions.

There was no immediate comment on today’s verdict from either McGrory or from the North’s political leaders.

© 2013 Irish Republican News