Loyalist terrorist found guilty of sectarian murder

Sectarian murder victim Alfredo Fusco and his bride on their wedding day

Another of the bereaved families from here finally got some degree of justice today. Loyalist terrorist Robert James Clarke was found guilty of the sectarian murder of 53-year-old Alfredo Fusco in his York Road café on 3 February 1973.

From the BBC report:

Mr Justice McLaughlin said there “was no innocent explanation” for the fact that fingerprints belonging to Clarke were found on the door which Alfredo Fusco was sheltering behind when he was killed.
“Standing back from all the evidence I am left satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant left his prints on the store door on the evening of 3 February 1973 whilst acting as the gunman who killed Mr Fusco,” the judge said.
He added that given the evidence of Mr Fusco struggling to keep the store door closed as the gunman tried to force his way in, “the close proximity from which the rounds were fired” and the fact the gunman swapped weapons with his accomplice after the machine gun jammed, “lead me inevitably to the conclusion that the gunman could have had no other intention but to kill his victim”.

It appears that new technology has allowed for Clarke’s conviction:

In a statement from the Historical Enquiries Team after the trial, lead senior investigator Chris Symonds said the murder had been “sectarian” and had robbed Mr Fusco’s family “of his love”.
He said the emergence of new fingerprint technology allowed them to re-open the case and identify Clarke as the gunman who left his prints on the store door.
“Mr Fusco’s family have waited many years for this new technology to allow them to see justice for their loved one today and we would hope that today’s events would offer some small comfort to them,”

Hopefully this successful conviction of another criminal along with that of McGeough last week are not the last such. Indeed it is possible now with the ability of the terrorists to credibly threaten to return to mayhem or to intimidate witnesses being gradually eroded that more of the criminals of the past forty years may be brought to justice. The fact that they may serve only two years is distasteful but their records will still be marked as the criminals they undoubtedly are: thankfully in its collapse Eames Bradley may also have prevented Quigley Hamilton from wiping the slate clean for the convicted criminals. The fall of Eames Bradley may also ensure that the “Legacy Commission” they proposed never manages to produce the amnesty which Eames Bradley so clearly intended (yet dishonestly pretended otherwise).

In view of its latest success whatever the failings of the Historical Enquiries Team it is clear that the prospect of gaoling the criminals of the past is a real one. It is of course the job of the police to catch criminals and whatever Matt Baggot thinks it is to be hoped that he will be forced to provide resources to this task: Northern Ireland should not be the only place in the British Isles where the murders of the recent past are ignored. If the ongoing enquiries only manage to make the criminals fear the prospect being caught even that is at least some benefit. Clearly, however, it is to be hoped that Clarke is just one in an ongoing and indeed accelerating line of criminals brought to justice. Hopefully the Fusco family will not be the last ones to have someone answer for the murder of their loved one.

This author has not written a biography and will not be writing one.