Page last updated at 19:36 GMT, Monday, 10 August 2009 20:36 UK

Flu 'could kill murder suspect'

Brian Shivers
Brian Shivers has been charged with murdering two soldiers

A man accused of murdering two soldiers in Antrim last March could die in prison if he contracts swine flu, the High Court has been told.

Brian Shivers, 44, of Sperrin Drive, Magherafelt, is accused of murdering Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar at Massereene Army base.

Mr Shivers has cystic fibrosis, and his lawyers claimed it could be fatal if he contracted swine flu in prison.

The judge refused his bail application because of a risk of reoffending.

Mr Shivers is also accused of multiple attempted murders and possessing firearms and ammunition with intent.

Prominent dissident republican Colin Duffy is the only other person to have been charged with the murders.

Prosecutors said the case against Mr Shivers was based on DNA recovered from matchsticks found in the partially burnt-out getaway car.

It was claimed that the chances of the profile belonging to someone other than him were one in a billion.

If this type of flu was to enter the prison system it is not an exaggeration to say it could spread like wildfire
Kieran Vaughan
Defence lawyer

But defence barrister Kieran Vaughan argued that mixed profiles had been found, and that according to experts it was possible to transfer someone's DNA simply through the touching of hands.

He likened the case to that of the Omagh bomb trial where South Armagh electrician Sean Hoey was cleared of murder after forensic evidence was discredited.

The court was told that when Mr Shivers was questioned he denied involvement in the murders and claimed to have been at home all night, apart from going out to get a Chinese takeaway.

Mr Vaughan said any fears that his client would flee if released were countered by the severity of his illness and his need for regular hospital treatment.

"There are forceful reasons why he would want to remain in this jurisdiction if granted bail," he said.

The barrister drew Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan's attention to a press report about a swine flu scare within the prisons.

"If this type of flu was to enter the prison system it is not an exaggeration to say it could spread like wildfire," he said.

"The consequences for Mr Shivers, it's not being overly dramatic to say that he could die if he was to find himself in that position."

'Respect'

References submitted on the accused's behalf included one from a priest which expressed disbelief he could be involved in "inflicting such horror on anyone".

He said Mr Shivers has earned the respect of all sides of the community.

The suspect's brother was prepared to lodge £190,000 in court to ensure he would turn up for trial, while his mother was ready to submit the deeds for her £135,000 home to demonstrate her confidence in him, he told the court.

Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey
Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey died in the Real IRA attack

However, Sir Declan rejected submissions that releasing the accused represented no risk.

The judge said that after reviewing the evidence, there was a case advanced by the Crown that Mr Shivers was one of those involved in the killings.

"Whether or not that is so will clearly have to be determined by the trial judge," he added.

The soldiers were killed by the Real IRA outside the barracks as they collected pizzas they had earlier ordered.

Two gunmen in a car parked nearby opened fire with semi-automatic rifles.

Four other people were seriously injured, including the pizza delivery men.



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