Justice for family of Eileen Doherty


A loyalist killer was jailed for life last week after a judge convicted him of the sectarian murder of a Catholic teenager.

Nineteen-year-old Eileen Doherty was shot three times by gunmen who hijacked a taxi she was taking home to Andersonstown from the Ormeau Road in south Belfast after visiting her boyfriend.

Robert Rodgers, of Tierney Gardens in Belfast, had denied murdering the teenager.

Justice Horner said: “Eileen Doherty was murdered because she was a Catholic who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The judge said that, despite the 40-year gap between the crime and the conviction, “murder is murder”.

Last month the no-jury trial heard that Ms Doherty had been visiting her boyfriend and had gone to get a taxi back to west Belfast on the night she was murdered.

While she was waiting for her cab, two men turned up and asked to share the cab.

As the taxi firm owner drove them across the city, the two men hijacked the car.

Ms Doherty and the cab driver ran for their lives as they were chased by the men in the car.

One witness statement read to the court described how the gunman had grabbed Ms Doherty by the arm and shot her at close range, once in the head and twice in her body.

She never regained consciousness and died early on October 1 1973, a few hours after the shooting.

The judge said it was thanks to technological advances that the case had been brought.

He outlined how the Historical Enquiries Team had reopened the case which was then passed to the PSNI for further investigation.

A sister of the murder victim said justice had finally been done after years of torment.

Linda Marsden, one of Ms Doherty’s six sisters, said the judgment would bring some comfort to her family.

But she was sad that her parents never got to see their daughter’s killer jailed.

“We have grieved for almost 40 years for our sister Eileen,” she said.

“Our dad never came to terms with the murder of his daughter. He could not even speak her name.

“He was traumatised until his death in May 2012.

“Our mother, although traumatised, had to be strong and continued to care for her other seven children until her death in August 2009.

“As a family we have been given answers to questions that have tormented us.

“Who could have done this to a beautiful 19-year-old girl? She posed no threat to anyone.”

Rodgers and another man were later jailed for life for another sectarian murder that was committed on September 25 1974.

Mrs Marsden thanked the Historical Enquiries Team and the PSNI for their efforts in bringing the killer to justice.

She said she hoped Rodgers’s conviction would bring “some sort of closure” for the family.

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