Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Loyalist killer seeking release under Royal pardon

A convicted loyalist killer jailed for another sectarian murder has launched a bid to be freed under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.

Robert Rodgers' lawyers have written to Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers urging her to grant the special pardon because he has already served a life sentence.

The 59-year-old is also preparing to lodge an appeal against being found guilty of murdering Catholic teenager Eileen Doherty nearly 40 years ago. She was shot three times after her taxi was hijacked by gunmen in south Belfast.

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

Despite being jailed for life once more for Ms Doherty's murder, he could be free after two years under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

However, his lawyers have initiated legal moves aimed at securing a quicker release.

A letter from Kevin Winters Solicitors to the Secretary of State set out the case for issuing the Royal Prerogative.

They argued that Rodgers has already served a life sentence for a Troubles-related killing. Solicitor Kevin Winters also confirmed his client intends to lodge an appeal against the murder conviction.

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