Loyalist supergrass pleads guilty to 5 murders

Posted By: June 23, 2017

 Former UVF commander turned supergrass Gary Haggarty has pleaded guilty to 200 crimes, including five murders.

David Young. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, June 24, 2017

FORMER UVF commander turned supergrass, Gary Haggarty, has pleaded guilty to 200 terrorist crimes, including five murders.

Relatives of Haggarty’s victims watched as the ex-head of the UVF’s notorious Mount Vernon unit in north Belfast repeatedly answered guilty to the litany of charges put to him in Belfast Crown Court yesterday.

The long-time police informer had been arrested in 2009 and later agreed to give state’s evidence against fellow paramilitaries.

As well as the five murders, the 45-year-old, who is in protective custody, admitted five attempted murders, including against police officers, 23 counts of conspiracy to murder, directing terrorism and membership of a proscribed organization.

He pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the murder of Catholic voluntary worker Peter McTasney, who was shot dead in his home in front of his three-year-old daughter in February 1991.

He also admitted assisting offenders involved in a murder bid on fellow UVF terror chief and police informer Mark Haddock.

On top of the 200 guilty pleas, Haggarty acknowledged responsibility for 304 other more minor offences.

Those were not listed as formal charges on the bill of indictment but will be taken into account by the judge when he is sentenced.

Haggarty was interviewed more than 1,000 times by detectives in one of the biggest and most complex cases ever undertaken in the north.

The catalogue of offences stretch over a 16-year period from 1991 to 2007 and include the loyalist murders of John Harbinson, Sean McParland, Gary Convie, Eamon Fox and Sean McDermott.

Haggarty is expected to receive a heavily reduced sentence in exchange for his cooperation with the authorities.

It is understood Haggarty has made allegations against 14 fellow loyalists for crimes including four murders.

He has also given evidence in relation to alleged criminality by two former RUC Special Branch handlers who worked with him when he was an informer.

Haggarty’s own lengthy charge sheet also includes kidnap, possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives as well as hijacking, false imprisonment, arson, intimidation and conspiracy to riot.

But he could walk free after his sentence hearing in September, given he has already served three years in custody – the equivalent of a six-year sentence.

Haggarty has since been released from jail and is believed to be living at a secret location outside the north

In the interim, prosecutors will decide how to proceed with the evidence he has provided.

The content of his interviews amounts to 23,000 pages of transcribed evidence.

There was a significant police presence in and around the court for yesterday’s high-profile arraignment hearing.

Haggarty was escorted into court through a side door by two specialist police officers.

He was initially arrested in 2009 and charged with the murder of Mr. Harbinson.

He later showed willingness to turn state’s witness and subsequently signed an agreement to become an assisting offender under the terms of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

The terror boss, whose address was formally recorded on the indictment sheet as care of a Belfast police station, stood in the dock dressed in a grey suit during the hearing before judge Mr. Justice Treacy.