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Pollen ‘links Colin Duffy to Massereene barracks murders’

New evidence has been produced linking a prominent republican accused of murdering two soldiers to the getaway car used by the killers, the High Court has heard.

A pollen expert has suggested “greater-than-chance” similarities between a profile on Colin Duffy's footwear and a sample on a bag recovered from the vehicle, a judge was told.

Details emerged as Duffy (42) was refused bail after a judge held there was prima facie evidence connecting him to a dissident republican group which posed a threat to the public.

Duffy, of Forest Glade, Lurgan, Co Armagh, is charged with the murders of sappers Mark Quinsey (23) and ‘Patrick’ Azimkar (21) who were gunned down by dissident republicans at the gates of Massereene Army barracks in Antrim in March 2009.

He is also accused of five counts of attempted murder and possession of firearms with intent in connection with the Real IRA ambush at Massereene.

Masked gunmen fired at least 60 rounds of ammunition at the victims before escaping in a waiting car, according to prosecutors.

That vehicle was later found partially burnt out in Randalstown. However, forensic examinations were carried out on the tip of a latex glove in the car.

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It was alleged that chances of a DNA profile obtained from the particle belonging to anyone else other than Duffy were less than one in a billion.

Mixed profiles from up to three people were also found on a seatbelt buckle. A forensic scientist concluded that one of them could have come from Duffy, according to the prosecution.

Further searches of a glove compartment located the same type of ammunition used in the attack, while a hold-all found in the boot contained camouflage jackets and more bullets, the court heard.

Crown counsel Tessa Kitson said an expert on pollen and fungal spores had studied samples taken from both the bag and a boot belonging to Duffy.

Ms Kitson said: “She concluded that the profile obtained from both inside and outside the hold-all bag and that of the footwear belonging to the applicant suggest a greater similarity than could be expected by chance.”

Mark Mulholland, defending, countered with a sustained criticism of the handling of the case against his client.

Mr Mulholland argued that Duffy should be granted bail on the basis of a delay in bringing the case to trial.

He also rejected any claims about potential further offending if the accused was released as unsubstantiated and speculative.

But, refusing bail, the judge held that on the basis of the latex glove there was “prima facie evidence this defendant is part of an organisation which is carrying out acts of terrorist violence which pose a risk to the public”.

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