Belfast Telegraph

Marian McGlinchey: She aided terrorist killers... but walked free from court

Furious reaction to court sentence for McGlinchey

By Rebecca Black

Outraged unionists have vowed to press the Lord Chief Justice and Director of Public Prosecutions after Marian McGlinchey avoided a prison sentence despite admitting to assisting the Massereene killers.

The Old Bailey bomber received a one-year jail term suspended for three years yesterday as a judge found there was a low risk of her reoffending.

Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar were killed as they collected pizza at the gates of Massereene Army barracks in Antrim, just hours ahead of being deployed to Afghanistan.

Mr Azimkar's mother Geraldine Ferguson (below) also hit out at the sentence.

She said: "It's astonishing how the courts don't seem to be able, or willing, to convict the people who murdered or who were actively involved in murdering our son Patrick, who would have turned 26 yesterday," she said.

"Healing follows on from justice and if justice is not done and seen to be done it leaves the victims to solely bear the penalty of the crime."

In November McGlinchey – formerly Price – admitted providing a mobile phone used to claim responsibility for the Real IRA murders of the two soldiers.

The 59-year-old, from Stockman's Avenue in west Belfast, also admitted helping out at a Real IRA Easter commemoration in April 2011, during which she held a statement for a masked man in a Londonderry cemetery.

Sentencing her yesterday, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said she had a "significant conviction for terrorist activity" in reference to two life sentences imposed in November 1974 for her role in the Old Bailey bombing.

The judge did, however, tell the court that pre-sentence reports presented to him suggested McGlinchey was "no longer interested in political activity".

He also spoke of her physical and psychiatric problems, saying sending her back to jail would result in "psychotic depression."

The fact that she has avoided a custodial sentence sparked outrage among unionists, who are also angry that Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly was not prosecuted over an incident where he was carried on top of a police Land Rover.

The fury over that case was exacerbated yesterday when it was revealed that the driver of the police vehicle could now face disciplinary action.

South Antrim DUP MP Willie McCrea slammed the McGlinchey sentence as "frankly outrageous" and said he planned to write to the families of the two soldiers to express his sympathy.

UUP MLA Tom Elliott said he planned to press the Lord Chief Justice for an "explanation" over the "leniency" of the sentence.

TUV leader Jim Allister said he was dismayed that for a "vile crime of aiding and abetting terrorism" McGlinchey received a "paltry" sentence, and that he would be writing to the Director of Public Prosecutions to ask him to refer the sentence back to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient.

McGlinchey pleaded guilty to providing property for the purposes of terrorism on March 8, 2009, and for this she was handed a 12-month prison sentence.

The judge said that while she admitted buying the phone used to claim responsibility for the murders, there was no evidence to suggest she was involved in the attack at Massereene.

She also admitted aiding and abetting, counselling and procuring the address made to encourage support for the Real IRA at the Easter Rising parade in Derry on April 25, 2011, for which she received an eight-month sentence.

Judge Kerr ordered that the sentences run concurrently, and suspended them for three years.

Saying he felt there was a low risk of reoffending, the judge warned McGlinchey that if she came before the court in the next three years she would serve her 12-month jail term in addition to any new sentence.

Mr McCrea called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to demand tougher sentences for those involved in republican criminal and terrorist activity.

"This miserable sentence is an insult to the people who have suffered as a consequence of the murders of Sappers Quinsey and Azimkar," he said. "I will be speaking with the families to consider how this sentence can be challenged."

No one behind bars for soldier murders, one of many cases still awaiting a just resolution, writes Chris Kilpatrick

Almost five years since the brutal slaying of two young soldiers as they collected pizzas, their families are no closer to seeing the killers behind bars.

Sappers Mark Quinsey (23) and Patrick Azimkar (21) of 38 Engineer Regiment were gunned down at the front gates of Massereene barracks in Antrim in March 2009, just hours before their deployment to Afghanistan.

Old Bailey bomber Marian McGlinchey is the only person to be successfully convicted in relation to the Massereene attack, but has now avoided jail after being handed a suspended sentence.

Three men – including prominent republican Colin Duffy – were arrested in connection with the atrocity in a police swoop shortly afterwards.

However, they were later released on the orders of the High Court following a judicial review.

Duffy was then rearrested and formally charged with the murders of the soldiers.

In 2012 he walked free from Antrim Crown Court after a judge dismissed the charges against him.

South Derry republican Brian Shivers was arrested on suspicion of the murders in July 2009 and convicted by the courts in 2012.

Shivers, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, was ordered to serve a minimum 25 years in prison for his part in the killings.

Then, in January last year, the conviction was overturned and in May he was found not guilty, cleared of all charges and released from jail.

The case against him relied on DNA evidence found on two matchsticks and a mobile phone found in the abandoned getaway car.

However, the judge raised concern over the DNA evidence used to link Shivers to the attack.

The families of the soldiers are just two groups of relatives affected by shocking terrorist crimes for which nobody has yet been sent to prison.

While civil action was successful against four republicans found liable for the Omagh bombing, no criminal convictions were ever achieved.

Twenty-nine people, including the mother of unborn twins, were killed in the August 1998 car bombing.

Another investigation which drew worldwide attention was the brutal murder of Robert McCartney. A father-of-two from the Short Strand, Mr McCartney is believed to have been in an argument with republicans before being stabbed to death in 2005.

The victim's five sisters and partner waged an unsuccessful campaign to bring the killers to justice.

Also unsolved is the Northern Bank robbery of 2004, during which £26.5m was stolen, making it one of the largest UK bank robberies in history.

It is widely believed members of the IRA were involved in the robbery.

Despite a number of arrests on both sides of the border, the case remains unsolved.

Security sources have told the Belfast Telegraph that there is an increasing tendency in recent years to arrest criminal suspects as a way of disrupting the activities of illegal gangs, even if it appears that, ultimately, they are unlikely to be charged.

However, the justice system has scored some successes. Days before the sappers were murdered, PSNI constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead while responding to a 999 call in Craigavon.

Brendan McConville (42), of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the murder, and John Paul Wootton (22), formerly of Collingdale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term.

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