Supergrass Haggarty warned handler about 2 UVF killings

Posted By: December 15, 2017

Irish News. Belfast. Friday, December 15, 2017
Haggarty sentence (day two)

LOYALIST killer turned supergrass Gary Haggarty warned his Special Branch handler about two UVF murders – including the high-profile killing of Raymond McCord Jr.

The startling admission was made by defense barrister Martin O’Rourke QC, who said that his client – who became a Special Branch agent in 1993 – was entitled to receive a substantial discount for the assistance he gave to police.

Following a two-day hearing, Mr. Justice Colton spoke of the “vast amount of material” he wants to consider ahead of sentencing, which will take place in the new year.

Ahead of Haggarty being informed how long he will spend in prison, his barrister said Haggarty should receive credit for the information he provided to Special Branch regarding the UVF’s activities.

This, Mr. O’Rourke said, was obtained over the course of more than 1,000 interviews and included “providing assistance in respect of 55 murders”.

After a senior prosecutor told Belfast Crown Court that Haggarty and others carried out “cold, calculated and remorseless acts” during his reign of terror, Haggarty’s barrister accepted his client was involved in a “catalog of atrocious offending” –but spoke of the information he provided to his handlers.

Mr. O’Rourke said Haggarty called his Special Branch handlers from jail “to tell them about the plot to kill Raymond McCord [Junior].” The court heard he both “made and received calls” on his mobile while in custody, and “made outgoing calls to Special Branch” on the prison pay phone, which Haggarty believed would be monitored, regarding the murder.

Raymond McCord, Jr. was taken to a disused quarry in Ballyduff in November 1997 by a group of UVF men who beat him to death. Justice Colton was told that after the murder, Haggarty was told who was involved, which he then passed on to Special Branch.

Mr. O’Rourke also said Special Branch were informed of a UVF plot to kill a Catholic taxi driver in the summer of 1994.

Haggarty said he didn’t know who the intended target was, but he told Special Branch about the plot, when it was taking place and who was involved.

On June 17, 1994, the UVF murdered taxi driver Gerard Brady, who was shot after picking up two men in Antrim. When Haggarty had a face to face meeting with his handler to ask why they hadn’t stopped the car containing the killers, he was told ‘we followed the vehicle but lost sight of it.’

Haggarty also claimed that after he was arrested for the February 1994 murder of grandfather Sean McParland, his handler told him not to answer any police questions.

In his 11 years as a police informer, the 45-year-old – whose address was given as c/o PSNI Knocknagoney Road, Belfast – told his handlers many details surrounding UVF activity.

This, Mr. O’Rourke said, included the location of a caravan park fellow UVF men were hiding in after they beat and kicked John Harbinson to death in Mount Vernon in May 1997.

The barrister added that murder plots against two people in north Belfast were called off due to information provided by Haggarty.

Haggarty also provided police with a key to a weapon hide in the Ross House flats in Mount Vernon – prompting Mr. O’Rourke to brand the quality of information provided by Haggarty as “exceptional”.

Justice Colton said: “It is clear there is a vast amount of material for me to consider.”

Addressing the defendant, he said: “I am not in a position to sentence you today Mr. Haggarty. I will give my sentence as soon as possible, but it will be in the new year.”

Justice Colton added: “I will endeavor to do that as soon as possible, so the defendant knows where he stands in relation to his sentence.”
ANALYSIS: Haggarty case makes for grim and disturbing reading
Allison Morris. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, December 17, 2017
It makes for grim reading, two days of summing up the murderous rampage of police informer Gary Haggarty, the names of his victims read out, the cold and callous way they were targeted and killed detailed.

Coins flipped to see which UVF man got to pull the trigger, details of drunken binges to celebrate kicking a man to death, victims’ characters blackened to hide the indiscriminate sectarian nature of the attack.

Throughout, Haggarty sat impassively in the dock. A defense barrister told the court the loyalist was sworn into the UVF in 1991 and became a Special Branch agent two years later.

Turned informer to save his own skin after being arrested for the murder of Sharon McKenna, shot dead by the UVF in January 1993 as she called on an elderly Protestant friend.

Over the last two days, Belfast Crown Court heard details of the 202 crimes Haggarty has pleaded guilty to, a further 300 offenses were taken into consideration.

Among the offenses five murders, victims’ families heard graphic details while knowing those responsible are unlikely to ever be brought to justice.

Haggarty, destined to leave behind his bloody past for a new future in witness protection.

His evidence not only reveals the actions of the informer-ridden Mount Vernon UVF but more damning and disturbing the actions of the Special Branch handlers who were facilitating the gang.

Haggarty claims he told his RUC handlers of the plot to murder Raymond McCord in 1997 and  that of Catholic taxi driver Gerard Brady

in 1994.

Needless deaths,

pointless misery and allegations of the most serious kind against police officers who have escaped prosecution.

Grim reading indeed.