Massereene gunmen were 'professionals'

Published Wednesday, 06 March 2013
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The Real IRA gunmen who ambushed soldiers as they collected delivered pizzas from outside their Co Antrim base, killing two of them, appeared to be professional hitmen, a Belfast court has heard.

Massereene gunmen were 'professionals'
The soldiers went to collect pizzas when they were confronted by gunmen. (© Pacemaker)

The claim came from a top forensic expert on Wednesday at the Diplock, non-jury Crown Court trial of 47-year-old Co Londonderry man Brian Patrick Shivers, accused of involvement in the gun attack four years ago.

Shivers from Sperrin Mews, Magherafelt, denies the murders of Sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham, and 21-year-old Patrick Azimkar, from London, who died in the 7 March 2009 attack on the Massereene Army base.

He also denies the attempted murders of two other soldiers, two civilian guards at the base, and two pizza delivery men, and possession of the two AK assault rifles used in the shooting on the outskirts of Antrim.

The firearms and ballistic expert told the court that he "thought the attack, for the want of a better word, professional".

The expert, who'd presented a computerised analysis of the shooting captured on security CCTV, said the gunmen "seemed to know what their targets were".

When asked, "what about their shooting?", the forensic scientist replied it was "very proficient".

He also told the court from the security footage, he had concluded the gunmen's initial attack began with them laying down automatic gunfire "like a submachine gun".

The gunmen, who between them fired 65 rounds, then switched to semi-automaticor single shot fire.

The court has already heard that during the 37-second attack, one of the gunmen took time-out to reload his AK assault rifle, which had been used in two previous attacks on police stations in both Randalstown and Londonderry in 2004.

Questioned about the reloading manoeuvre, the senior scientific officer said that normally in a stressful situation it would be a difficult exercise, "however training and practise makes this procedure easier".

The prosecution claim that Shivers had been tasked to destroy the gunmen's blue Vauxhall Cavalier car and as such was party to the deadly plan to commit mass murder on utterly defenceless and unarmed soldiers.

They further claim that the fact two civilians were injured; one seriously, in the shooting was a chilling indication that the gunmen were prepared to shoot anyone in an effort to achieve their goal in what was a "highly organised, ruthless, brutal [and] direct act of violence".

© UTV News
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