Lawyers for a man convicted of murdering two British soldiers at an army base in Co Antrim have told a court he had a maximum of four or five years to live because of a medical condition.

Co Derry cystic fibrosis sufferer Brian Shivers, 46, was handed a life sentence last month after being found guilty of the murders of Sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21 and Mark Quinsey, 23, outside Massereene Army barracks in Antrim on 7 March, 2009.

His lawyer, Pat O'Connor QC, told Belfast Crown Court his client had only four or five years to live.

But he acknowledged judge Justice Anthony Hart was duty bound to impose a minimum term that was much longer.

"There's no allowance that my Lord can make that can have any meaning in relation to a life expectancy that is so limited," he said.

Justice Hart was hearing submissions before setting what tariff the killer will receive. He is due to give his decision next Friday.

His lawyers told a hearing considering how long Shivers should spend in prison that he would never see the outside again except for hospital treatment.

The prosecution asked the judge to impose a prison sentence on the higher part of the scale, because the killings were a terrorist act politically motivated, and there were no mitigating circumstances.