DNA was planted, says man cleared of Massereene murders

A man cleared of murdering two soldiers in the North has claimed his DNA was planted on a latex glove in the getaway car.

A man cleared of murdering two soldiers in the North has claimed his DNA was planted on a latex glove in the getaway car.

Colin Duffy, 44, said the charges against him were “spurious” but refused to condemn dissident republicans.

Co-accused Brian Shivers was yesterday convicted of murdering the two sappers outside Massereene army barracks in March 2009.

Duffy said: "I am firmly of the view that my DNA arose there because it was planted. I was never in that car.

“I state quite categorically here that I had no involvement in what happened at Massereene, no involvement whatsoever, and that has been vindicated in court because there was no credible evidence to suggest otherwise.”

He said that if being a dissident meant opposing Sinn Féin’s peace strategy then he was happy to classify himself as such.

He added that he had no questions to answer.

“I did not need to answer to the spurious evidence or so-called evidence that they were adducing at the trial,” he said.

“The decision not to give evidence was a decision that we took on the basis of my view legally of how the case was going.”

Duffy walked free from Antrim courthouse yesterday following a six-week trial in which he was accused of helping to kill the Afghanistan-bound soldiers, who died in a hail of machine gun fire.

It was the third time in the last two decades that Duffy, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, has walked free after being charged with murdering security-force members.

Cystic fibrosis sufferer Shivers, 46, was handed a life sentence after the judge, Mr Justice Anthony Hart, found him guilty of being part of the gang.

Sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London, and Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham, were gunned down as they collected a pizza delivery outside the Massereene Army barracks in Antrim.

The Real IRA claimed responsibility.

The soldiers from 38 Engineer Regiment were about to begin a tour of duty in Afghanistan when they were killed. They were dressed in their desert fatigues and were within hours of leaving the base.

They were collecting pizzas at the front gate of the base when they came under fire. Two other soldiers and two pizza delivery drivers, were injured in the gun attack.

Shivers and Duffy were charged with two counts of murder, six of attempted murder and a further count of possessing two machine guns.

Duffy never spoke to police during the trial beyond denying involvement in the offences.

“People do not need to get into a witness box to explain themselves and, while doing so, guilt should not be inferred from the fact that people refuse to get in and give evidence,” he told a press conference in west Belfast.

Asked about republican violence, he said: “This is a legacy issue here in relation to what has taken place in Ireland in a historic context and far be it for me to be the person who can end all of this armed struggle and all the rest of it, these are issues for these particular groups out there.”

He added: “I am not into condemning these groups or anything like that because I don’t believe there is any value in that. I do not support them either but I am not into the politics of condemnation.”

Duffy said hostility from families of the dead Sappers came after they had been fed information by the “forces of the state”.

“They are feeding them tittle tattle and rumour and innuendo.”

He said it would depend on the circumstances whether he would meet the victims’ families, given that he had played no part in what took place.

Asked about fears for his personal security, he said: “I am a republican, a political activist, and do not intend to change, always have been and always will be.”

He said his release was tinged with sadness at the fact that Shivers had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

“In my opinion, the evidence was not there. What we had was the judge allowing what is essentially low copy number DNA, which was discredited after the Omagh case (when Sean Hoey was cleared of murdering 29 people) but which has now been rebranded and re-labelled low template DNA. It is still the same.”

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