Man's 'propensity for killing Catholics'

Published Monday, 02 December 2013
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A loyalist jailed for murdering Catholic teenager Eileen Doherty 40 years ago, had a "propensity for sectarian killings", the Court of Appeal has held.

Man's 'propensity for killing Catholics'
Ms Doherty was murdered on her way home in October 1973. (© Pacemaker)

Setting out reasons for dismissing Bobby Rodgers' bid to overturn his conviction for the 1973 murder, senior judges pointed to his shooting of another Catholic man 12 months later.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan ruled that a strong case had been established against him which went well beyond speculation.

He said: "This was an attack which had all the hallmarks of a sectarian murder in which the aim was to kill a Roman Catholic.

"The murder committed in 1974 was carried out for exactly the same reason."

Ms Doherty, 19, was shot dead as she returned home to west Belfast after visiting her fiancé.

The taxi she was travelling in was hijacked by gunmen on the Annadale Embankment.

Rodgers, 59, of Tierney Gardens, Belfast, was charged following a review of available evidence by the Historical Enquiries Team.

His prints were found to have matched those lifted from the taxi.

He denied the murder but was convicted following a non-jury trial in February this year.

Although he was not suspected of firing the fatal shots, he was found guilty of a joint enterprise to murder.

The palm prints, the bad character evidence and the failure of the appellant to give evidence constituted more than sufficient material to justify this conviction.

Sir Declan Morgan

Rodgers received a life sentence with a 16-year prison tariff for her murder, but could still be freed in early 2015 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Rodgers has already served 17 years in prison for the killing of a Catholic man a year later.

Ciaran McElroy, 18, was shot a number of times in September 1974 on Park End Street, Belfast.

Rodgers was convicted and jailed for his murder in 1975.

His challenge to being found guilty of Ms Doherty's murder centred on the decision to let the later killing feature as so-called bad character evidence at his trial.

His lawyers contended there were insufficient similarities between the two cases and claimed the prosecution case was weak.

But Sir Declan, sitting with Lord Justices Higgins and Girvan, identified an active participation in a sectarian attack close in time to the killing of Ms Doherty.

"That was sufficient to establish that the conviction in 1975 illustrated a propensity to commit a sectarian murder of this kind," he said.

Further defence arguments on the prints and their location in the taxi were also rejected.

© UTV News
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14 Comments
michael in belfast wrote (136 days ago):
that just about sums up all these loyalist serial killer groups - they simply target innocent catholics, doesnt matter age or gender - they are all legitimate targets. If they happen to be republicans, then even better. from shankill butchers to Torrens Knight and everybody in between, there is a deep seeded hatred of anything irish... scary
Wake up to reality in In the house wrote (136 days ago):
Forget the gfa murder it should be life for a life the gfa is a slap on the face to the victims families where is the justice for them? As far as I'm concerned the gfa only supports terrorist (loyalist and republican) by letting them off the hook and giving then a shorter jail sentence, time for NI to take a step into the real world.
Belfast in Belfast wrote (137 days ago):
Stephen in portadown, I think you should read boru's comment again. Take as long as you need mate.
David in East Belfast wrote (138 days ago):
WHY? Why do protestants and catholics ever want to kill each other? Anyone who would do so is certainly not in any form 'religious', they are godless thugs, no matter what their claims, and hell will not be full until they are all in it.
laura in belfast wrote (138 days ago):
No one should rot in hell in Jail ! This man is also someones dad , to many low lifes walking about planting bombs and allowed to do it , they should write an report on how this man changed his life around !!!!
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