A 20-year-old Londonderry man charged with the murder of pizza delivery man Emmet Shiels in the city in June 2008 has walked free after prosecution witnesses would not come to court.
Thaddeus McAllister, originally from Cable Street in the Bogside but now with an address in London, had been due to face trial charged with murdering 22-year-old Mr Shiels at Bligh’s Lane.
Mr McAllister also faced a charge of attempting to murder another man, possessing a weapon and three charges of assault.
At the time of the murder the Independent Monitoring Commission blamed the INLA for the killing, saying Mr Shiels was shot going to the assistance of another person being targeted by the paramilitary group.
The INLA denied being involved.
Yesterday prosecution barrister Terence Mooney QC said that no evidence would be offered in the case because a “great number” of prosecution witnesses would not attend court.
He said “they were reluctant to attend court for various reasons”.
“By last Friday it became apparent to me that a tipping point had been reached,” he said.
He added that following a review of the evidence over the course of the weekend he had come to a conclusion not to proceed with the case.
“In these regretful circumstances I offer no evidence in this case against the accused.”
Mr McAllister was then told he was free to go.
The victim confronted a group of masked men in the area before he was shot in 2008.
His baby son Cayden was born just days after he died.
At the time Detective Chief Inspector Frankie Taylor said Mr Shiels became involved in a row by chance, and had not participated in any violence.
It is understood Mr Shiels was chased by a group of masked men across a grassy area near St Mary's Chapel and the City Cemetery and shot in the chest.
He was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital but died from his injuries.
Mr Taylor said a shot had been fired during an earlier incident in Abbot's Walk in the Bogside, and Mr Shiels had encountered those responsible as he was driving along Lone Moor Road in his pizza delivery van.
The detective said Mr Shiels was then confronted on Eastway by masked men wearing camouflage clothing and was shot shortly afterwards.
“He became involved purely because he was driving a vehicle along the Lone Moor Road.
“We believe that he knew some of the people involved, and that was why he stopped.
“It is also our belief that he was trying to defend others,” he said.
Mr Taylor paid tribute to Mr Shiels as an innocent man and condemned the people who carried out the attack.
“He was a very highly regarded member of the Derry community who lived here all his life.
“Those responsible are gangsters who came into the city to carry out a violent attack, and someone ended up dead,” he said.
The murder was widely condemned in Derry and sparked a huge public response, culminating in hundreds of people signing a petition calling on the leaderships of paramilitary groups to call off their armed campaigns.
Gary Meenan (20) from Bishop Street in Derry was jailed for eight years for Mr Shiels’ manslaughter in November 2010, while Nadine Kelly, also 20, from Celandine Court in the city, was given a one-year suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice by giving Meenan a false alibi.