Bobby Rodgers–Justice–What Justice?

On Friday 15th March Justice Horner delivered the life sentence tariff to Bobby Rodgers three weeks after his absurd conviction on a forty year old murder charge.  He decreed that Bobby should serve a minimum of 16 years for the killing of Eileen Doherty in September 1973. Bobby’s conviction was based solely on circumstantial evidence–two hand prints–prints that could easily have been made prior to the day of the killing.  In his wisdom Horner reasoned that beacuse Bobby had subsequently served a life sentence the he could safely assume that he must have been responsible for the earlier murder.  And because Bobby choose NOT to take the stand during the trial Horner further supposed that this was an admission of guilt. Totally ludicrous.  Last Friday after summing up once again and going to great lengths to vindicate his findings Horner again found the time to demonise Bobby Rodgers further.  He cast aspersions om Bobby’s bona fides as  leading youth worker–with a twenty years unblemished record–by stating that it was wrong to say that Bobby was a changed man because of his “actions” during the trial.  By actions I suppose he was referring to Bobby’s legal right to take the stand or not.  Horner again–” Rodgers has put Miss Doherty’s family through more pain by pleading not guilty to the murder”.  You would think that withsuch a learned mind as Justice Horners he would have had a slight notion that Bobby may have been pleading not guilty because he was in fact innocent.
The judge also stated that it wasnt for him to take into account the fact that Bobby Rodgers will serve a maximum of 2 years as declared in the Good Friday Agreement.  So in light of this how then can this system be seen as the way of dealing with the past or of delivering justice to so called victims?  Can any victims family be sure that they are getting justice if someone who they believed murdered a loved one “gets off” with a 2 year sentence–especially having waited for 40 years?  I doubt it.  In this particular case the relatives of Eileen Doherty told reporters that no sentence was long enough as far as they were concerned. That, I am sure would be echoed by other families in the same situation.  There is a great danger here that in relation to the actions of the Historical Enquiries Team–who seem to be targeting Loyalists–that rather than an even handed system being applied it will turn into a witch hunt against one section of former combatants, where justice isnt the desired outcome but rather revenge or vengeance.
Bobby Rodgers has already had a rebuke from the Secretary of State in relation to a reprieve through a Royal Prerogative of Mercy–which has been granted to a number of Republicans in recent times–and has, through his legal team lodged a Judicial review on those findings.  He also has the right to appeal which, I assume will be lodged in due process.  My abiding hope is that proper justice does prevail and that Bobby Rodgers is released on appeal due to the laughable nature of the charges against him.  Then he can be returned to his rightful place–the working class protestant communities–he has served admirably since 1990.


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