DCSIMG

Prominent dissident Colin Duffy cleared three times of murder arrested over ‘drive-by hit’

Police officers patrol the area close to the fatal shooting on the M1 motorway near Lurgan. Picture: AP

Police officers patrol the area close to the fatal shooting on the M1 motorway near Lurgan. Picture: AP

  • by DAVID YOUNG
 

A LEADING dissident republican, acquitted in January of the murder of two British soldiers, has been arrested by detectives investigating the drive-by shooting of a prison officer in Northern Ireland.

Colin Duffy, 44, was detained with a second man in Lurgan, County Armagh, just miles from where David Black, 52, was ambushed on the M1 motorway on his way to work at the top-security Maghaberry Jail, near Lisburn, County Antrim.

A third man, aged 29, was also arrested last night as part of the murder probe. The suspect was detained in the Republic of

Ireland.

Duffy has been cleared

of murder charges on three

separate occasions.

Earlier this year, he was acquitted by a judge in Antrim of the murders of Sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21, and Mark Quinsey, 23, of 38 Engineer Regiment. They were shot dead outside the Massereene barracks in March 2009 as pizzas were delivered. Brian Shivers, 46, was found guilty of the murders.

Duffy was arrested at his home on the republican

Kilwilkie estate in Lurgan.

Politicians on all sides condemned the murder of Mr Black, who was planning to retire next year after more than 30 years of service.

Enda Kenny, the Irish Republic’s premier, said the dissident republicans had been linked to criminality and drug dealing.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton branded the killing of the prison officer as “cowardly”, while applauding the efforts of police to bring those responsible to justice. Duffy and the second man, 31, were last night being held at Antrim, but detectives believe it will be up to the public to give them the breakthrough they need.

Mr Black drove from his home in Cookstown, County Tyrone, then through Stewartstown. Minutes after pulling on to the M1 in his Audi A4, the car carrying the gunman pulled up alongside.

The killer opened fire after a passenger window was lowered. Mr Black was hit and his car then careered off the road and into a ditch.

Police first thought that there had been a road accident, but then realised the driver had been shot. Mr Black’s son even drove past 15 minutes later, not knowing what had happened.

Secretary of State Teresa Villiers told the Commons that the

terrorists would not succeed. She said: “The future of Northern Ireland will only ever be determined by democracy and by consent. That is a clear message coming from Northern Ireland in the wake of this tragedy, from political leaders, from church leaders and from across

the wider

community.”

It was still dark at the time of the attack and it is not known if there were any eyewitnesses.

Police are keen to trace anybody who may have seen the two cars in the minutes before the shooting.

Superintendent Keith Agnew said: “I welcome the universal condemnation there has been from right across our community in response to David’s murder. I am sure it is of comfort to his family at this difficult time. But condemnation, however strident, is not enough.”

 
 
 

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