Published Friday, 20 January 2012
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Cold, calculating, clinical... three words I would use to describe the murders of Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar.

CCTV footage of the very moment they were gunned down outside Massereene army barracks was played in court during this trial.

Even though there was no sound, the brutality of what happened stunned the court in Antrim.

On 7 March 2009, Patrick, Mark and three fellow soldiers casually walked out of Massereene army base to pick up a pizza. A last treat before flying out to Afghanistan.

They were unarmed and vulnerable.

As the soldiers discussed their orders with two pizza delivery men who arrived in separate cars, two gunmen emerged from the shadow.

Masked, in some sort of dark uniform, pointing their weapons, they opened fire.

More than 60 bullets were fired from guns used in previous dissident attacks.

The killers only fled when all those outside the base had fallen to the ground.

Patrick Azimkar died at the scene. Mark Quinsey was barely alive, but died on his way to hospital.

Three others were injured, so were the two pizza delivery men, and security guard.

One of those who survived, sapper Mark Fitzpatrick, relived that night in court. He took cover in one of the Pizza delivery cars.

"It was a blur. I could see Pat facing towards the road on his front,'' he said.

"Whoever it was wanted to cause damage. They finished him (Pat) off before firing into me."

That soldier was so badly injured, and so traumatised by what happened, he later left the army.

One by one those injured that night told their story.

Mercin Wietrzynski was the first civilian in the witness box.

The Polish man was one of the two delivery men.

Through an interpreter he told the court: "I woke up on the ground. I was all sore. I realised I had been shot."

Asked where, he replied: "I got hit in my hands and my back I had my legs broken, generally my whole legs were wounded.

It quickly emerged after these horrific murders security at the barracks may not have been as it should have.

The prosecution said the habit of collecting takeaways at the gates left soldiers vulnerable to attack.

As the emergency treated the injured outside Massereene, the killers were well on their way...

But they were about to make a big mistake... that led police directly to Republican Brian Shivers.

The getaway car was found partially burnt out a few miles from the barracks.

That person in charge of torching the car failed to destroy it...

Vital clues were left...

Shivers's DNA was found on matches inside the car, one matchstick outside it.

A coffee jar with rounds of ammunition, camouflage clothes and balaclavas were also discovered in the vehicle.

Mobile phones were also recovered.

One contained a chilling voicemail - believed to have been left by mistake.

It was a conversation between those involved gloating about the murders.

This is what was said: "There were a few dead alright...have to say boys, you were as cool as."

Throughout this trial prominent republican Colin Duffy denied any involvement in the murders.

The prosecution's case against him centred on DNA evidence - found on the tip of a latex glove and a seatbelt in the getaway car.

But Judge Anthony Hart found Duffy not guilty of the murders - saying he was in the car at one stage but not on the night of the murders.

"I consider that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy me beyond reasonable doubt that, whatever Duffy have done when he wore the latex glove or touched the seatbelt buckle, meant that he was preparing the car in some way for this murderous attack, " said Mr Justice Hart.

"And I therefore find him not guilty."

Shivers on the other hand was found guilty.

He had been on bail and walked into court on Friday, but left in a prison van as he faces a life sentence.

The judge was in no doubt of his involvement in the Massereene murders.

"The person who set fire to the Cavalier played an essential part in the murderous attack."

The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the Massereene murders, but it's believed terrorists from the different dissident groups were involved.

What happened that night plunged Northern Ireland back to the darkest days of the past.

Police hope the verdict sends out a clear message to those dissidents still bent on violence. Most of the gang involved are still at large, and they say they will not close the book on this investigation until they are brought to justice.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
michael in derry wrote (1,100 days ago):
The cruel and calculated way that these young fellows were murdered was wickedness beyond belief. Going out to get a pizza ,lulled into a false sense of security and to executed with no mercy at all. The people who carried out this act should hang their heads in shame. They have done nothing to forward Irish unity! They have left decent people with sore hearts. How deceitful to gun them own in such a way. I am a Catholic and Nationalist and their brutal actions were most certainly not carried out in my name. That poor woman on the news crying as she tried to come to terms with what was done to her Son and that man trying to understand why his Son was executed in such a ruthless fashion. The people who carrie out this wicked deed have no mandate they represent no one and they should disappear off to whatever stone they crawled out from under. They are murderers and shoul be handed over to the athourities to stand trial.
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Sharon O'Neill
Sharon O'Neill

Sharon is a graduate of the University of central Lancashire in Preston. She graduated with a 2:1 degree in journalism. She was a mature student - (though she didn't act it at times!)

After studying she freelanced for both the Irish News and Belfast Telegraph, then she was a sub-editor at the Daily Mirror despite some terrible spelling. Then she got a job as a reporter with the Irish News and two years later became their chief reporter.

She then moved to UTV and went in front of the camera, though she insists she's not a natural. She finds every day can be memorable in its own little way.

In her spare time she loves keeping fit, feeding her coffee addiction and the occasional dance.

Her phrase of choice is 'Let's check out of this cheap hotel'.

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