LONDON — A 40-year-old American--the first Irish Republican Army member ever extradited from the United States--was convicted today of slaying a policeman 13 years ago.
Judge Christopher Rose sentenced William Quinn to life in prison for the shooting death of a 21-year-old policeman who tried to question him near an alleged IRA bomb factory. Quinn had pleaded innocent to the slaying after he was extradited from San Francisco two years ago. He had waged a five-year legal battle against extradition.
"It was an appalling, coldblooded killing untinged by any remorse on your part," Rose told Quinn, a third-generation Irish-American who lived in the Irish Republic for most of the 1970s.
"It was motivated no doubt by the terrorist activities in which at the time you were involved," Rose said.
The shooting took place in 1975 at the height of the IRA's bombing campaign in mainland Britain to try to end British rule in mostly Protestant Northern Ireland so it can be united with the Catholic Irish Republic.
Prosecutors said Quinn was stopped for questioning by police near an IRA arms factory. He shot Stephen Tibble three times in the chest at point-blank range when the unarmed officer called for him to halt.
Quinn was arrested in San Francisco in 1981.
He was extradited in October, 1986, after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his argument that the police shooting was a political offense, and therefore not covered by the U.S.-British extradition treaty.