By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — British army paratrooper Lee Clegg has been cleared of all wrongdoing in connection with the killing of two Catholic teenagers in September 1990 and is now legally an innocent man with no outstanding charges against his name.
The appeals court in Belfast overturned a guilty verdict on charges of wounding Martin Peake, the 17-year-old man who was the driver of a stolen car and who was killed in the shooting.
Last March, Clegg, 32, was cleared at a retrial of murdering Karen Reilly, 18, but convicted of attempting to wound Peake, who also died when soldiers opened fire on the car on Glen Road in west Belfast.
Clegg was originally convicted in 1993 but was granted a retrial after his legal team presented a dossier of fresh ballistic evidence.
Clegg has been free on license since July 1995 and is now back in the Parachute Regiment, where he has been promoted.
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Clegg’s defense counsel argued that his client had been subjected to double jeopardy. He referred to the case of a man acquitted of rape, where later evidence suggested the man was guilty but he could not be retried because of double jeopardy.
"You may think that is highly unsatisfactory," he told the appeal judges. "But it is the law today."
Clegg’s mother, Wynne Johnston, said the verdict had delighted her son. "Now our family can relax at the end of a nine year ordeal," she said.
The Pat Finucane Center condemned what it called the "complete and absolute failure of the legal system to deliver justice to the families of the murdered Belfast teenagers. A third teenager, Markievitz Gorman, was wounded in the same incident.