Trial views CCTV of soldier deaths

Published Monday, 04 March 2013
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The trial of a Magherafelt man has been shown horrifying CCTV security footage of the moment a band of unarmed and defenceless soldiers were ambushed by the Real IRA outside their Co Antrim base four years ago this week.

Trial views CCTV of soldier deaths
Brian Shivers, pictured, from Magherafelt, Co Londonderry. (© PA)

The Belfast court was also played a snippet of a recording from a mobile phone in which the gunmen were being praised and congratulated for the cool manner in which they carried out the murderous attack.

The video, taken outside Massereene Army base on the outskirts of Antrim was played at the start of the Diplock, non-jury Crown Court trial of Brian Patrick Shivers from Sperrin Mews, who denies the murder of the two soldiers caught in the 7 March 2009 ambush.

When the video stopped, sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London, lay dead or dying. Alongside them were four others who were seriously wounded - two soldiers and two civilian drivers, who were delivering pizzas to the base.

Initially, five soldiers were seen coming out of the base, approaching one of the drivers in the hope of a last pizza before deployment to Afghanistan, which was just hours away.

Already dressed in desert fatigues, they then go to the second driver, who had just arrived, before two gunmen began spraying the area with gunfire.

Later, the prosecution described the attack as "short, sustained, and deadly" in which chillingly the gunmen, after the initial burst of fire on the defenceless group, then moved forward, around the parked delivery cars to fire at individual targets - not caring if they were soldier or civilian, and even firing at them as they lay on the ground.

In all, the gunmen fired 65 rounds using two AK assault rifles, one of which had been used in a previous attack on the security forces.

At one stage, a gunman can be spotted reloading his weapon and firing again before escaping in a Vauxhall Cavalier car. The prosecution claim that the partly burnt Cavalier car, complete with a "terrorist kit" including a supply of ammunition and two mobile phones, was discovered just over seven miles away in a quiet country road, not much more than a laneway.

In the back of the car, two used matches were found which the prosecution claim bears Shivers' DNA.

The prosecution also claim that a low level mixed DNA profile from Shivers was uncovered from a third used matchstick which was found on the roadway near the car.

In addition, a further partial DNA profile was recovered from inside one of the mobile phones left abandoned in the car.

On that phone was the short recording in which the gunmen appear to be told that: "There was a few dead all right."

The prosecution claimed that their evidence against Shivers was both persuasive and cogent, that his alibi of being home all night just did not stand up to scrutiny and that the discovery of his DNA at the scene was a mute witness which nevertheless spoke of his participation.

Earlier, the court heard that security at the Antrim base had become lax and was somewhat flawed for some time with soldiers ordering meals from the outside and then going, with no personal protection weapons, to collect them from the front gate.

It was a situation open to abuse by terrorists.

On the night of the Real IRA attack, the gunmen were armed with "deadly weapons" which had come from the old communist block country of Yugoslavia.

Of the 65 rounds fired, two of which were recovered from the scene, it appeared that one gunman had fired 26 shots, while the other, who had reloaded, fired a total of 37 times.

One of the soldiers lucky to survive reported at the time that, when the shooting started, he recalled flashing lights and bangs, and of being flung forward by another soldier, undoubtedly saving his life.

The attack itself was described as having been "high organised, ruthless, brutal and a direct act of violence" and that Shivers was a party to it.

Given its complexity, it was claimed that Shivers would not have been picked in isolation to do such an important job as the burning of the car.

The trial, expected to last up to four weeks, continues on Tuesday.

© UTV News
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