Humanitarian appeal for Brian Shivers
Humanitarian appeal for Brian Shivers

A man currently being held on remand at Maghaberry jail on the basis of controversial ‘low copy’ or ‘low threshold’ DNA evidence could be dead by the time he is cleared of charges, his lawyer has said.

Brian Shivers was charged in July with the ‘Real IRA’ shooting two British at Massereene army base in Antrim.

At a monthly pre-trial hearing this week, it emerged that Mr Shivers, who has cystic fibrosis, may need a lung transplant within three weeks if his condition continues to deteriorate at the current rate.

Peter Corrigan said his client had been rushed to hospital from Maghaberry Prison twice in recent weeks.

Crown prosecutors are still ‘reviewing’ charges against Shivers.

Mr Corrigan said the ‘low threshold’ process had already been discredited in the US and Britain.

“It’s going to be too late for Mr Shivers to have his name cleared posthumously when the evidence against him is discredited,” he said.

“We’re keen to have a trial as soon as possible so that my client can clear his name.”

The magistrate said that, given the defendant’s medical condition, he would bring the next monthly review forward by two weeks.

Shivers is due to reapply for High Court bail tomorrow [Friday].

Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four yesterday backed calls for Shivers – of Sperrin Mews in Magherafelt – to be released on bail on “humanitarian grounds”.

Mr Conlon spent 16 years in jail after being wrongly convicted of involvement in an IRA bombing campaign in England in 1974.

His father Guiseppe died from bronchitis in prison in 1980 after also being wrongly convicted of the bombings.

Mr Conlon said Shivers should be freed to receive the treatment he needs, even if the bail conditions were stringent.

“Legal history shows that all to often the latest atrocity in the northern Irish conflict is followed by a miscarriage of justice,” he said.

Mr Conlon revealed that the case had caused him to relive “hurtful and painful flashbacks” of his father’s death.

“The new political dispensation in Northern Ireland should be underpinned by a compassionate, fair and hu-man judicial system,” he said.

“I often wonder if my father would have lived if he’d been given proper medical treatment instead of being forced to die in prison.

“We can’t afford a situation arising where potential victims of miscarriages of justice are allowed to die in custody prior to their trials.”

The Conlons’ cmapaign and the tragedy of Giuseppe Conlon was made into the well-known movie, ‘In the Name of the Father’.

Paddy Joe Hill of the Birmingham Six also said: “I have serious worries over the credibility of controversial DNA evidence used in this case and others.

“I know from personal experience what it is to be wrongly convicted by dubious forensic evidence.”


Meanwhile, Colin Duffy, who is also being held over the Massareene attack, as well as five others arrested around the same time, are seeking a declaration that the relevant legislation used detain them was incompatible with their right to liberty under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Duffy was the only one of the six to have been charged following questioning by PSNI for the 28-day interrogation period allowed by special new legislation.

Counsel for the six argue that the relevant legislation makes it clear that any arrest must be with a view to charging and bringing suspects promptly before the “competent legal authority” – the magistrates court.

It was previously revealed that Mr Duffy continued to be detained and held in isolation even after the PSNI interrogation had concluded.

The outcome of the challenge could have an impact for human right across the world, it was claimed.

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