Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist killer’s QC makes leniency plea

A loyalist hitman convicted of a sectarian murder nearly 40 years ago has made a “significant contribution” to both sides of the community in the past two decades, a court has heard.

Robert James Clarke (59) was given a life sentence last month after being convicted of the 1973 murder of Belfast cafe owner Alfredo Fusco in February 1973.

Yesterday judge Mr Justice McLaughlin listened to submissions from lawyers about how long Clarke should serve in jail.

He adjourned the setting of a minimum tariff for a week but acknowledged Clarke will be released in two years’ time under the Good Friday Agreement.

Frank O'Donoghue QC said Clarke had lived a law-abiding life since being released from jail for another murder in 1991 and that his contribution to society helped both sides.

The accused, from Dundrod Road, Nutts Corner, was arrested after the Historical Enquiries Team investigated and matched a fingerprint found on a door at his York Road cafe to Clarke.

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