Belfast Telegraph

Palm print links accused to 1973 killing, court told

Palm print evidence links a man to the killing of a Catholic woman in Belfast 37 years ago, a court has heard.

Police claimed there was a scientific basis for charging Robert Rodgers with the murder of Eileen Doherty. The 19-year-old victim was shot dead at Annadale |Embankment after getting into a taxi in September 1973.

She was on her way home to the Andersonstown area after visiting a friend when the vehicle was hijacked by two men who were in the taxi depot and had asked if they could share her taxi.

After travelling along Annadale Embankment the men, who appeared to be drunk, produced a gun and ordered the taxi driver to stop. They ordered Eileen and the driver to get into the back of the car, but as they got out the driver shouted at her to run.

The pair ran a short distance but their escape route to King's Bridge was blocked by a fence. Police believe the killers then went round the one-way system to catch up with Eileen and the taxi driver.

They grabbed Eileen by the arm and shot her once in the head and twice in the body. Eileen later died in hospital. The driver |escaped and raised the alarm.

The gunmen drove off in the taxi, which was found the next day in Fountainville Avenue.

Rodgers (57), of Tierney Gardens, Belfast, was charged after the case was reopened by the PSNI's serious crime branch |earlier this year. As he appeared before the city's Magistrates Court, a detective constable said he could connect him with the killing.

Questioned by defence lawyer John Finucane, the officer disclosed that palm prints formed part of the evidential case.

He said prints taken from the accused after his arrest were compared with those taken from the crime scene 37 years ago.

Mr Finucane told the court Rodgers strenuously denied the murder charge. “It will be the defendant's intention to lodge an abuse (of process) application at a later date,” the solicitor said.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall said there was sufficient information to connect Rodgers with the crime.

After being told the police file should be ready in “a relatively short period”, she remanded the accused on continuing bail.

He will appear again before the court in February.

Belfast Telegraph

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