Former paramilitary admits 1992 Derby soldier murder

A former Irish republican paramilitary has admitted murdering a British army recruitment officer in Derby 18 years ago.

Sgt Michael Newman, 33, was shot in the head in April 1992 as he walked to his car from the careers office.

Declan Duffy, who was a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), pleaded guilty to the charge at Stafford Crown Court.

The 36-year-old was jailed for life with a minimum of 24 years.

It is possible that Duffy will only serve two years of his sentence under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, but the court heard the matter was beyond its jurisdiction.

Any decision is likely to be made by independent sentence review commissioners in Northern Ireland.

Duffy is already serving a four-year jail term in the Irish Republic for his INLA membership.

The paramilitary group, which announced it was disbanding last year, admitted responsibility for Sgt Newman's killing at the time and even wrote to his family explaining that he had been shot as part of its fight with the British government.

Duffy, a former leader of the group who was named as a suspect along with two other INLA men, said last year he had decided to speak to the police after renouncing his links with the INLA.

He said: "I would never have spoken to the police in the past but my war is over and there are things I have to get off my chest."

Image caption Sgt Newman was shot at point blank range in a car park

He added: "This man was a family man and it is regrettable that he was killed.

"I would be happy to meet with any member of his family to explain to them the circumstances of why soldiers at that time were being targeted.

"The war is now over and I acknowledge the hurt caused to Irish and English people."

Sgt Newman had left the recruitment office in Derby's Main Centre and was making his way through an underpass, where he was followed by two men.

He was shot at point blank range in the Carrington Street car park.

Det Ch Supt Andrew Stokes, who co-ordinated the Derbyshire Police inquiry, said: "This was a cold-blooded killing of a man who had his life ahead of him.

"Michael Newman was 34 and engaged when he was shot.

"His family and friends were left devastated by his death and I am glad that Declan Duffy has finally admitted his part in this.

"We realise it must be very difficult after all these years for these things to be dragged up again but at the same time for his family's sake it is vital that we are able to bring the men responsible for this murder to justice.

"It must have been so hard for the family all these years knowing that the people who did this were out there living their lives and never made to face up to what they had done."

In 2004, Joseph Magee, from Armagh in Northern Ireland, also admitted murdering Sgt Newman, but on the understanding that he would be released from prison soon afterwards under the Good Friday Agreement.

Anthony Gorman, who is also accused of the shooting, is fighting extradition from the Irish Republic.

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