Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Soil 'links Duffy to two murders'

Colin Duffy
Colin Duffy is accused of murdering two soldiers

Soil on a boot belonging to republican Colin Duffy matched a sample in the getaway car used after the murder of two soldiers, a court has heard.

Mr Duffy, 41, of Forest Glade, Lurgan, County Armagh, denies the murders of sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21.

They were shot dead at the gates of Massereene Army barracks in March.

Mr Duffy was applying for bail at the High Court. The hearing was adjourned by Mr Justice Weatherup.

This was done so prosecutors can confirm whether or not a case is to proceed against Mr Duffy, who is also accused of of five counts of attempted murders and possession of firearms with intent.

A Crown barrister said on the night of the attack two masked gunmen fired more than 60 rounds at the victims before escaping in a waiting car.

She told the court it was later found partially burnt out in Randalstown and forensic examinations were carried out on the tip of a glove retrieved from the front passenger side of the vehicle.

She said: "The result from that is the chance of obtaining a matching profile of DNA other than that from this applicant (Mr Duffy) would be less than one in one billion."

Mixed profiles from up to three people were also found on a seatbelt buckle. A forensic scientist concluded that one of them could have come from Duffy, according to the prosecution.

Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey
Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey were shot dead

Further searches of a glove compartment located the same type of ammunition used in the attack, while a hold-all found in the boot contained camouflage jackets, trousers and more bullets, the court heard.

The barrister claimed that because of the length of sentence Mr Duffy faces should he be convicted there would be an "almost overwhelming" temptation to flee the country if was released on bail.

She also disclosed that soil comparisons were carried out after footwear was seized during searches of his home.

"The forensic expert concludes that the soil taken from the applicant's boot matches the soil found in the car at that time."

'Paucity'

However a defence barrister claimed the report only stated the earth may have come from the same location.

He said this reflected the "paucity" of the case against his client, and stressed that eight months after the murders the authorities have still to decide whether to press ahead with the charges against Mr Duffy, who denies any involvement in the attack.

"Mr Duffy makes no bones about the fact, and never has done, that he is known as a prominent republican, in the mainstream sense of the word, in Lurgan," the barrister said.

"But at no time did the police ever arrest him in relation to dissident republican activity prior to his arrest on March 14 this year."

Mr Justice Weatherup said he was not satisfied that no risk existed by releasing the accused, but he stressed that any potential delay in bringing the case to trial was unacceptable.

"This situation cannot continue without specific justification for continued detention. Therefore I require that justification to be presented when this matter next appears before the court."



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