Vic­tims stabbed in the back by UVF su­per­grass trial farce, says McCord

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY MICHAEL McHUGH

THE au­thor­i­ties have be­trayed vic­tims by rul­ing out mur­der ev­i­dence from a loy­al­ist su­per­grass, a prom­i­nent cam­paigner has said.

Ray­mond McCord said he was sick­ened by the treat­ment of for­mer UVF com­man­der and in­former Gary Hag­garty.

Hag­garty ac­cused 11 paramil­i­taries and two for­mer po­lice of­fi­cers of in­volve­ment in mur­der.

Pros­e­cu­tors said the ev­i­dence was in­suf­fi­cient to prove his claims.

Mr McCord said: “It was a be­trayal of jus­tice, a be­trayal of vic­tims’ fam­i­lies.”

Hag­garty was a se­nior fig­ure in a no­to­ri­ous north Belfast loy­al­ist ter­ror gang and pleaded guilty to five mur­ders and 197 other of­fences.

Mr McCord’s son Ray­mond ju­nior was killed by the UVF gang in Novem­ber 1997.

He added: “What the Govern­ment, the para­mil­i­tary peo­ple be­hind the scenes, the po­lit­i­cal peo­ple have done, is stabbed the vic­tims in the back — we don’t mat­ter.”

The Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice said there was in­suf­fi­cient cor­rob­o­rat­ing ev­i­dence to sup­port the al­le­ga­tions lev­elled by Hag­garty to pro­vide a rea­son­able prospect of con­vic­tion.

Pros­e­cu­tors are still con­sid­er­ing the cases of three sus­pects named by the killer and long­time po­lice in­former, re­lated to three mur­ders, with de­ci­sions ex­pected by the end of the month.

Loy­al­ist su­per­grass Hag­garty (left) and Ray­mond McCord

In the sum­mer Hag­garty (45) pleaded guilty to 202 ter­ror of­fences, in­clud­ing five mur­ders, in a con­tentious State deal that will see him re­ceive a sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced prison term in ex­change for his ev­i­dence when he is sen­tenced at the end of the month.

He could the­o­ret­i­cally walk free to en­ter a new life with a

fresh iden­tity, hav­ing al­ready served three years in cus­tody on re­mand — the equiv­a­lent of a six-year sen­tence.

Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions Barra Mc­Grory said as­sess­ing his cred­i­bil­ity was a “com­plex task”.

Mr McCord claimed the State did not want the case to go to court.

“The fear is of hav­ing to pros­e­cute se­cu­rity force peo­ple past and present,” he said.

As well as the five mur­ders, Hag­garty, 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 or­gan­i­sa­tion.

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

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, the boss of the UVF’s no­to­ri­ous Mount Ver­non unit, pro­vided ev­i­dence against oth­ers in re­la­tion to the mur­ders of Mr Con­vie, Mr Fox, Mr McPar­land and Mr Harbin­son. Ally Ben­nett of Guide­dogs NI with au­thor Ai­dan Camp­bell at the launch of his new lo­cal his­tory book on the bor­ough of Castlereagh. Guide­dogs NI was one of four lo­cal char­i­ties to ben­e­fit from the launch of the pub­li­ca­tion

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