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BBC
31 May 2012

Father of two Simon Tang died after being beaten and robbed in June 1996

The murder of a Chinese businessman 16 years ago is allegedly linked to loyalist paramilitaries, the High Court has heard.

Simon Tang, 28, was beaten and robbed as he left his takeaway business in Carrickfergus in June 1996. He died later from his injuries.

In court on Thursday, prosecutors revealed police intelligence documents.

They referred to a suspected UVF association among some of those accused of involvement in the killing.

A judge was also shown photographs of new graffiti which claimed police were now targets after the inquiry into Mr Tang’s murder was re-opened.

Details emerged as bail was granted to one of two men charged with murder.

George Robinson, 36, of The Hollies, Carrick, was released on cash sureties of £10,000 and ordered to stay away from the town.

Mr Robinson and his co-accused, Paul Allen, 38, of Drumhoy Drive, Carrick, were arrested earlier this month and deny any involvement in the killing.

Two anonymous witnesses, identified only as Witness A and B, have given evidence against them, the court heard.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court that one of them claims to have overheard a conversation between two men in a bar two weeks after the murder.

Opposing bail, the lawyer claimed the appearance of graffiti in the Woodburn area of Carrick showed tensions were running high. She said some of the painted messages read: “PSNI are targets” and “PSNI enter at your peril”.

The court also heard further intelligence has emerged of an alleged connection to the UVF in the town.

A defence barrister said there was no evidence that Robinson had ever attempted to intimidate any witnesses.

Granting bail, the judge imposed a further condition that Mr Robinson could not leave Northern Ireland without giving police 24 hours notice. He is also to be electronically tagged and put on curfew.

:::u.tv:::
30 Apr 2012

Raymond McCord Jnr was murdered in 1997 (Photo: Pacemaker)

Evidence provided by a loyalist supergrass could see a breakthrough in the police hunt for the UVF killers of a former RAF member, a court has heard.

Coroner John Leckey has adjourned inquest proceedings into the 1997 death of 22-year-old Raymond McCord Jnr in north Belfast to see if testimony provided by the so-called “assisting offender” will prompt charges.

On Monday, at a preliminary hearing in Belfast, a police lawyer confirmed that the process of interviewing the offender was near to completion.

It is understood he is providing state’s evidence on a range of crimes committed by the notorious UVF gang from north Belfast’s Mount Vernon estate that beat Mr McCord to death and dumped his body in a Newtownabbey quarry.

A lawyer for the McCord family said this could prompt police action in regard to the murder.

On the back of a complaint by the victim’s father, Raymond McCord Snr, an investigation led by former Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan was published in 2007.

Mr McCord Snr has led a high-profile campaign for justice ever since the murder almost 15 years ago.

The report revealed large-scale collusion between the gang and the police, which ran agents inside the UVF.

The PSNI’s Operation Stafford is currently probing crimes committed by the gang.

Earlier this year nine men, including alleged gang leader Mark Haddock, were cleared of murdering UDA chief Tommy English after a lengthy trial which saw evidence provided by two other supergrasses heavily criticised by the judge.

At Monday’s hearing, lawyers for Mr McCord’s parents, who were present in court, told Mr Leckey that they wanted to see the police investigation completed before an inquest was heard.

“There’s an assisting offender who is currently involved in a process with the PSNI,” said Paddy Murray, representing Mr McCord’s mother Vivienne.

“I understand that process is nearing completion, if not completed.

“That process could raise very serious issues. There may well be arising from that a criminal process in the future. We understand that investigation is fairly progressed.”

He said Operation Stafford had raised “very serious and complex issues” in regard to the murder.

“Particularly in relation to state agents’ involvement in the death of Mr McCord,” he said.

“From that point of view, it’s necessary that all information is before the coroner in advance of hearing the inquest.”

Richard Ferguson, representing the PSNI, concurred with Mr Murray’s assessment that the process of taking evidence from the assisting offender was nearing completion.

“It’s a live investigation which there are still potentially very interesting lines of enquiry that are ongoing,” he added.

But the lawyer said the offender was being questioned primarily about another matter related to the wider investigation.

He said it was the general position of the police that they would not wish to see an inquest take place before their investigations were complete, because it may prejudice any potential future court proceedings.

Catherine O’Hanlon, representing Mr McCord Snr, said he also wanted the inquest adjourned but she put on record his disappointment that the police had not made more progress.

“He is extremely disappointed that we are here in this position some 14 and a half years after the death,” she said.

“He feels there has been an inadequate explanation given by the police this morning as to why this investigation hasn’t progressed.”

Mr Leckey, Northern Ireland’s senior coroner, said that decades ago the police seemed to be content to let inquests take place before any police investigation but there had been a “sea change” in their attitude.

He noted the potential issue around prejudice but indicated that he did not want to delay inquest proceedings indefinitely, noting that criminal charges may never be brought.

“The problem of course is that may never be achieved and sadly there are a number of deaths where that hasn’t be achieved,” he said.

He said the longer an inquest was delayed, the more risk of the “trail going cold”.

Mr Leckey said he would adjourn proceedings until 7 September, when he hoped the police would be in a position to outline the situation in more clarity.

The police would have to formally apply for an open-ended adjournment until their investigation is complete.

Mr Leckey asked that the senior PSNI detective leading the investigation – Tim Hanley – be present in court for September’s hearing.

BBC
16 Mar 2012

A man widely named as the leader of the UVF in east Belfast has been arrested as part of an investigation into serious crime, including drugs.

Forty-nine-year-old Stephen Matthews was arrested on Friday morning.

Two other men have also been arrested by detectives investigating incidents in the area in recent weeks, including a bomb attack on a house last weekend.

It is understood the incidents were the result of a feud between the UVF and another criminal gang.

They included an alleged murder attempt on Stephen Matthews last month.

Belfast Telegraph
24 February 2012

Disgusted was the word that rolled from Raymond McCord’s lips yesterday after he had paid a visit to his son’s grave.

Dismayed by Mark Haddock’s acquittal in the UVF ‘supergrass’ trial, nevertheless, with typical resolve, he vowed to fight on.

Raymond McCord’s quest for justice has endured years of heartache and setbacks since the hour he discovered his 22-year-old son, Raymond Jnr, had been found battered to death in a desolate Co Antrim quarry.

His struggle to bring his son’s UVF killers to justice has taken him to Capitol Hill in Washington and the Commons in London and precipitated an unprecedented investigation by the then Police Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, into the role of police agents within the UVF in north Belfast.

McCord’s battle with loyalist paramilitaries in north Belfast began even before his son was murdered.

In 1992, he was battered senseless by a six-man UDA gang which he had confronted on the Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey.

He returned to Northern Ireland in 1995 from America, vowing to tackle the organisation’s leader in the area for the continual harassment of his wife and children.

Little did he know that, two years later, he would be burying one of those children.

In his relentless pursuit of justice he has taken on the might of the UVF and, he thinks, the Establishment in his quest to bring Raymond Jnr’s killers to justice.

O’Loan’s report into the apparent latitude afforded to the UVF’s Mount Vernon crew made sensational reading as it revealed not just that Mark Haddock was a police agent but that others around him were also working for the police as agents cleared to participate in crime.

The acquittal yesterday of 12 of the 13 men who stood trial in connection with more than 30 serious terrorist crimes, including Haddock, was not unexpected by the indefatigable campaigner for justice.

When the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) passed its investigation over to the PSNI, McCord dared to hope that those who organised his son’s murder – and those who carried out the orders – would be successfully prosecuted for their involvement in a plethora of UVF crimes, including the murder of UDA man Tommy English.

Mr Justice Gillen declared that he could not convict on the word alone of the Stewart brothers, on the trustworthiness of whose testimony the trial hinged.

The relatives of Sappers Azimkar and Quinsey were assured by the PSNI that the investigation into the Massereene attack would continue.

For McCord, there is unlikely to be a similar heartening assurance.

For 14 years, he has trodden a lonely path, briefing journalists more in hope than expectation that his son’s killers would be nailed.

If truth were told, he never did express belief in the system, expecting little would change in his uphill struggle to bring police agents to justice.

He knows that the prospects of some of the UVF’s Mount Vernon gang now being tried for the murder of his son more than 14 years ago is, at best, slim.

And, as he struggles to cope with that reality daily, he faces the possibility that those he has faced down for a decade and more remain at large to taunt him and perhaps attack him, as the PSNI has repeatedly warned they intend to do.

McCord remains in the category of many who fought for justice, hoped for justice, but in the end felt they had been let down.

There is the maxim that the first 24 hours in a police investigation are the most crucial.

When McCord’s son was murdered in 1997, there were those within the RUC who had the means – through Mark Haddock – of establishing who carried out the brutal slaying and gathering the evidence against them.

That didn’t happen. And the question forever posed by Raymond McCord will be: “Why?”

BBC
31 Jan 2012

Almost five months after it opened, the judge at the UVF supergrass trial in Belfast has retired to consider his verdict.

At 71 days the trial is one of the longest and most expensive in Northern Ireland’s legal history.

It relied on the the evidence of two so-called supergrasses, brothers Robert and Ian Stewart.

Thirteen men are charged with more than 30 offences including murder, kidnapping, and UVF membership.

They include the alleged former UVF leader in north Belfast Mark Haddock.

Last week a 14th defendant, David Jason Smart, 38, from Milewater Close, Newtownabbey, was freed from the dock after the court heard that the prosecution were not challenging the judge’s ruling that he had no case to answer.

They also did not challenge the judge’s decision to acquit several others of involvement in two punishment beatings.

However, at the time Mr Justice Gillen said his finding on those charges did not apply to the evidence of the Stewart brothers relating to the murder of UDA man Tommy English in Newtownabbey, another punishment beating and to the allegations of UVF membership.

Accused of Mr English’s murder along with Mark Haddock are David Miller, 40; Alex Wood, 35, John Bond, 45, Darren Moore, 42, Ronald Bowe, 35, Samuel Higgins, 35, Jason Loughlin, 36, and Philip Laffin, 34.

They also face other charges including UVF membership, wounding, possessing guns and hijacking.

The four who deny offences such as assisting offenders and perverting justice are William Hinds, 46, David McCrum, 32, Mark Thompson, 37, and Neil Pollock, 36.

The trial began last September.

Much of it has been taken up by the testimonies of Robert Stewart and his brother Ian.

They have admitted UVF membership, and already served more than three years for their part in the murder of Mr English on Halloween night 2000.

He was shot dead in front of his wife and children at his home on the Ballyduff estate at the height of a loyalist feud between the UVF and UDA.

Under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, the Stewarts have signed an agreement committing them to giving truthful evidence about the men in the dock.

In such cases, so-called “assisting offenders” can have their sentences reduced in return.

In the case of the Stewart brothers, both have avoided the prospect of a further 19 years in jail, providing they are seen to have kept the agreement.

They handed themselves in to police in August 2008, and underwent more than 330 police interviews in total, some of them at secret addresses outside Northern Ireland.

In court on Tuesday a barrister argued that their lives had been characterised by “deceit, self-interest and gratuitous violence.”

This is a diplock trial, meaning the Mr Justice Gillen acts as both Judge and Jury.

He told the court he would deliver his judgement as soon as possible.

The outcome of the trial is of importance to the Historical Enquiries Team of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and the Public Prosecution Service, which is said to be considering other prosecutions using assisting offenders.

BBC
24 Jan 2012

The accused men at the centre of a UVF supergrass trial in Belfast will not give evidence on their own behalf.

They deny a series of charges made on the word of brothers Robert and Ian Stewart.

The Crown Court trial of 14 men, includes alleged former UVF leader in north Belfast, Mark Haddock.

In Belfast on Tuesday, lawyers revealed that the accused would not be taking the witness box in their own defence.

The judge asked if the defendants were aware that the court “may draw such inference as it deems proper”.

The defence lawyers in turn informed the judge that they had advised their clients as to the implications,

Although the 13 remaining accused are not giving evidence, one of them, Ronald Trevor Bowe, will be calling a doctor to give medical evidence on Wednesday.

One defendant David Jason Smart, 38, from Milewater Close, Newtownabbey, was freed from the dock after the court heard that the prosecution were not challenging the judge’s ruling that he had no case to answer.

The prosecution are also not challenging the judge’s decision to acquit several others of involvement in two punishment beatings.

However, at the time Mr Justice Gillen said his finding on those charges did not apply to the evidence of the Stewart brothers relating to the murder of UDA man Tommy English in Newtownabbey and to another punishment beating and to the allegations of UVF membership.

Accused of Mr English’s murder along with Mark Haddock are David Miller, 40; Alex Wood, 35, John Bond, 45, Darren Moore, 42, Ronald Bowe, 35, Samuel Higgins, 35, Jason Loughlin, 36, and Philip Laffin, 34.

They also face charges such as UVF membership, wounding, possessing guns and hijacking.

The four who deny offences such as assisting offenders and perverting justice are William Hinds, 46, David McCrum, 32, Mark Thompson, 37, and Neil Pollock, 36.

The trial which is one of the biggest and most expensive criminal trials in Northern Irish legal history began last September.

Much of it has been taken up by the testimonies of Robert Stewart and his brother Ian. They have admitted UVF membership, and already served more than three years for their part in the murder of Mr English on Halloween night 2000.

He was shot dead in front of his wife and children at his home on the Ballyduff estate+ at the height of a loyalist feud between the UVF and UDA.

Under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, the Stewarts have signed an agreement committing them to giving truthful evidence about the men in the dock.

In such cases, so-called “assisting offenders” can have their sentences reduced in return.

In the case of the Stewart brothers, both have avoided the prospect of a further 19 years in jail, providing they are seen to have kept the agreement.

They handed themselves in to police in August 2008, and underwent more than 330 police interviews in total, some of them at secret addresses outside Northern Ireland.

:::u.tv:::
20 Jan 2012

A judge has refused to halt the long-running of trial of 14 men implicated in a series of UVF terrorist crimes by two supergrass brothers.

But he has thrown out a number of charges against some of the accused because the evidence against them was ‘weak’.

Mark Haddock

Lawyers for the accused had urged Mr Justice Gillen to acquit all the men on all of the charges because they said the unsupported evidence of brothers Robert and Ian Stewart was totally and completely unworthy of belief.

They argued that based on the inconsistencies of the brothers’ evidence the judge could never be convinced of the guilt of the men who between them face a total of 37 charges ranging from the murder of UDA leader Tommy English to causing grievous bodily harm to men in punishment beatings.

Other charges include UVF membership and assisting offenders.

In a 35 minute ruling at Belfast Crown Court on Friday morning Mr Justice Gillen said he was acquitting the defendants on charges relating to two of the punishment beatings.

He said the evidence was so weak that there were no circumstances in which he could convict the accused in the two cases.

He said the passage of time had led to a ‘flawed and confused recollection of the incidents’ by the brothers.

The judge also said the two brothers had been involved ‘in a plethora of terrorist incidents’ and there was a danger that they were confusing a number of the episodes.

Mr Justice Gillen said John Bond, one of the accused who was implicated in a beating, was actually in prison at the time of the incident, but the judge said his findings about the Stewarts’ evidence didn’t apply at this stage to the charges relating to the English murder and to another punishment beating and to the allegations of UVF membership.

Friday’s ruling left only of the accused – David Smart – acquitted of all the charges against him but he will be back in the dock on Tuesday 24 January when prosecution lawyers will reveal whether or not they are going to appeal against the decision which Mr Justice Gillen made on Friday.

Accused of Mr English’s killing are 41-year-old Mark Haddock from the Mount Vernon area of north Belfast; his alleged UVF second-in-command 38-year-old David ‘Reggie’ Millar and the alleged commander of the New Mossley UVF Alex ‘Poco’ Wood and his suspected lieutenant Jason Loughlin, both aged 34.

The nine men who deny the murder of rival UDA chief Tommy Emglish in October 2000 and UVF membership, possessing guns and hijacking are: Mark Haddock (41) with an address as c/o maghaberry prison, John Bond (43) from Essex Court, Carrick, Ronald Bowe (33) from Ross House in the Mount Vernon estate, Samuel Higgins (34) from The Meadow, Antrim, Philip Laffin (33) from Bridge Street, Antrim, Jason Loughlin (34) from Bryson Court, Newtownabbey, David Miller (38) from Upritchard Court, Bangor, Darren Moore (40) from Mount Vernon Park, Alexander Wood (34) from Milewater Way, Newtownabbey.

The five men who deny offences such as assisting offenders and perverting justice are: William Hinds (45) from Ballycraigy Gardens, Newtownabbey, David McCrum (31) from Beechgrove Drive, Newtownabbey, Neil Pollock (34) from Fortwilliam Gardens, Belfast, David Smart (36) from Milewater Close, Newtownabbey, Mark Thompson (35) from Ballyvesey green, Newtownabbey.

BBC
20 Jan 2012

The judge in the UVF Supergrass trial in Belfast has thrown out some of the charges in the case.

It involves charges against ten of the 14 men in the dock.

Mr Justice Gillen said he “could not conceivably be satisfied of the guilt of the accused” in the cases of two serious beatings in 1996.

He said he believed the principal witnesses had flawed memories of the events and may have been mixing up several different beatings.

Much of the trial has been taken up by the testimonies of Robert Stewart and his brother Ian.

They have admitted UVF membership, and already served more than three years for their part in the murder of the Mr English on Halloween night 2000.

Mr English was shot dead in front of his wife and children at his home on the Ballyduff estate at the height of a loyalist feud between the UVF and UDA.

On Friday, Mr Justice Gillen said John Bond, one of the accused who was implicated in a beating, was actually in prison at the time of the incident.

The prosecution has indicated it will appeal against his decision.

Nine of the ten face other charges.

If the prosecution appeal fails, one of the 14 accused, David Smart would have no other charges against him and could be discharged.

The Judge will continue the case concerning the murder of UDA man Tommy English in 2000, UVF membership and other matters.

The trial began in early September 2011 and is one of the biggest and most expensive criminal trials in Northern Irish legal history.

All of the 14 men accused deny all the charges against them.

Under legislation called the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, the Stewarts have signed an agreement committing them to giving truthful evidence about the men in the dock.

In such cases, so-called “assisting offenders” can have their sentences reduced in return.

In the case of the Stewart brothers, both have avoided the prospect of a further 19 years in jail, providing they are seen to have kept the agreement.

They handed themselves in to police in August 2008, and underwent more than 330 police interviews in total, some of them at secret addresses outside Northern Ireland.

By Liam Clarke
Belfast Telegraph
19 January 2012

The issue of UVF assaults on Protestants is to be raised at the Policing Board by Sinn Fein, according to victims campaigner Raymond McCord.

Mr McCord said the DUP would also be raising the subject with the Chief Constable after the recent beating of 23-year-old James Kelly on the Shankill Road.

Mr Kelly’s uncle Bobby Moffett was killed by the UVF in May 2010.

He was speaking after a meeting with First Minister Peter Robinson and earlier with Mitchel McLaughlin of Sinn Fein.

The police have not linked Mr Kelly’s assault to the terror group, but Mr McCord – whose son Raymond was murdered by the UVF in 1997 – believes they are responsible.

“The attackers have been identified by witnesses, but the police won’t act. I have no doubt informers were involved,” he alleged, claiming that the UVF effectively policed the Shankill.

“Who would have thought the day would come when Protestant people would have to make representations to a unionist first minister to get protection from the UVF, not the IRA or dissidents?” he added.

A DUP spokesman said that Mr Robinson had been glad to meet Mr McCord and that the party “unequivocally condemns all violence” regardless of the perpetrator.

He added that on Monday the DUP had held a meeting with the police to discuss the attack on James Kelly, the attempted murder of a soldier by dissident republicans and car hijackings.

News Letter
19 January 2012

VICTIMS’ campaigner Raymond McCord yesterday called for action to stop paramilitary attacks on young people.

He spoke out after praising First Minister Peter Robinson for holding a “constructive and positive meeting” with Shankill Road residents to hear their fears yesterday.

Mr McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr was murdered by the UVF in 1997, was accompanied yesterday by a number of victims.

“We need action,” he said. “Words aren’t enough for the people.

“The way it is going some young lad is going to be killed and then we are going to have unionist politicians coming out and saying, ‘This is terrible’.”

Mr McCord is expecting Mr Robinson to raise the issue of UVF violence with Chief Constable Matt Baggott next Monday.

A DUP spokesman said after the meeting: “Following a request for a meeting, the DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson was happy to meet with Raymond McCord earlier today.

“At the time of the appalling murder of Bobby Moffett, DUP representatives at every level stood with the community against UVF terrorism both at vigils and at the funeral.”

Belfast Telegraph
18 January 2012

The UVF supergrass trial has made history for a second time after the judge proposed that legal arguments by lawyers should be published on the internet.

In a unique bid to ensure proper access to the judicial process, Mr Justice Gillen said that, with the agreement of counsel, their written submissions should be freely available online for members of the public to read. Any resulting judgments or rulings should also be published, the judge said.

He explained while these skeleton arguments were considered by the court, they were not always opened publicly during proceedings.

At the beginning of the non-jury trial last September, Mr Justice Gillen initially granted permission for the case to be “tweeted” on social media website Twitter.

He is presiding over a marathon case of 14 defendants implicated in a catalogue of UVF terror crimes. Nine of the accused are charged with the 2000 murder of rival UDA chief Tommy English.

South Belfast News
11 Jan 2012

Loyalist paramilitaries were behind the vicious attack on a Catholic teenager working on a film set in South Belfast this week, the SBN can reveal.

UVF thugs embarked on the brutal assault on an 18-year-old film extra in the Village last Friday (January 6), after discovering Catholic teenagers from the Short Strand were working on the film.

Since the vicious attack, which saw the teenager badly beaten, placed in a wheelie bin and left for dead, local UVF men have visited a local community centre which hosted the film crew to warn them not to bring anyone else into the area “without their permission”.

The paramilitary group also ordered community workers not to speak to the press about the attack, saying “there would be consequences” if they disobeyed.

The crew, which was filming for a number of days for the movie The Good Man starring ‘The Wire’ actor Aiden Gillen, were in and around Frenchpark Street and Ebor Street on the day of the attack. They had been using the nearby Windsor Women’s Centre as a base of operations while continuing to film around the Village.

However around 3.50pm, a group of loyalists confronted the crew, hurling sectarian insults and threats. As the crew went to drive off, 18-year-old James Turley was caught by the mob who beat him severely before placing him in a wheelie bin. The vicious assault only stopped when his attackers thought he was dead.

Village sources, who were too frightened to be named, said the UVF were “obviously upset Catholics were in the area” with one adding “they were making no money from a film being made here”.

Another source told how UVF men subsequently visited Windsor Women’s Centre on Monday (January 9) and threatened staff.

“The community workers were told no-one else was to be allowed into the Village without the UVF’s permission. It shows the influence they are still trying to exert on this area.

“The staff were also told they were forbidden from going to the press about the incident or there would be consequences. It’s the same old thing down here with them trying to run things.

“There were a few local lads also involved in the film so it was helping this area out. I don’t like to see stuff like this happening because the Village gets enough bad press as it is but it’s horrible to see.”

Susan Picken of Manifesto Films, the company making the film, said she would think twice about returning to the Village for future shoots.

“Filming there was a very positive experience for most of the time and the local community were brilliant to us. It’s a shame something like this has happened and I wouldn’t want anything to reflect badly on the people we worked with.

“I have no idea about paramilitary involvement and I wouldn’t want to comment on that. All I can say is the people we dealt with were absolutely brilliant but working there again would be something we would need to look at very carefully.”

The PSNI refused to say if it was examining the paramilitary link to the attack saying only they were treating it as sectarian.

A police spokesperson appealed for anyone with information to contact them on 0845 600 8000.

BBC
9 Jan 2012

A witness at the UVF Supergrass trial in Belfast has claimed detectives from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) twice paid him money after he made statements about some of the accused.

Keith Caskey, 41, received a severe beating in New Mossley.

It happened in January 1996.

He was designated a hostile witness by the trial judge, Mr Justice Gillen, because there were two distinct versions of his story.

In one version, which agrees with his statement to the HET, Mr Caskey said he was driven by three of the accused, Mark Haddock, Darren Moore and Alec Wood to New Mossley, expecting to receive a punishment beating for antisocial behaviour.

He claimed, in his evidence for the prosecution, that he also saw two others, David Smart and Philip Laffin.

He testified that he was taken to a nearby alleyway, his head covered with a pillow case, and he was then beaten by six men wielding baseball bats, pickaxe handles and hammers.

He received multiple injuries to his legs, arms and head and was in hospital for several weeks, and used a wheelchair for some time afterwards.

But when cross examined by defence barristers, Mr Caskey insisted that the HET had written the first statement for him and he had simply signed it.

He insisted he had no memory of the incident at all, and certainly could not remember the identity of any of his attackers.

He further alleged that an HET detective had given him £50 on two separate occasions.

The court heard that Mr Caskey had been an alcoholic and drug addict for several years, was still a heroin user, and that he had no confidence in his own memory.

He stated that he had no wish to give evidence and went as far as to tell the court “I’m not reliable here at all”.

The trial began in early September 2011, and is expected to finish hearing evidence on Tuesday.

It is one of the biggest and most expensive criminal trials in Northern Irish legal history.

All of the 14 men accused deny all the charges against them.

Much of the trial has been taken up by the testimonies of Robert Stewart and his brother Ian. They have admitted UVF membership, and already served more than three years for their part in the murder of the UDA man Tommy English on Halloween night 2000.

Mr English was shot dead in front of his wife and children at his home on the Ballyduff estate at the height of a loyalist feud between the UVF and UDA.

Under legislation called the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, the Stewarts have signed an agreement committing them to giving truthful evidence about the men in the dock.

In such cases, so-called “assisting offenders” can have their sentences reduced in return.

In the case of the Stewart brothers, both have avoided the prospect of a further 19 years in jail, providing they are seen to have kept the agreement.

They handed themselves in to police in August 2008, and underwent more than 330 police interviews in total, some of them at secret addresses outside Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph
21 December 2011

After seven weeks in the witness box, so-called supergrass Ian Stewart ended his evidence yesterday by telling Diplock judge Mr Justice Gillen in the loyalist UVF terror trial that he and his brother knew nothing about any deals to be had with the authorities.

Stewart claimed that it came as a “complete surprise” when he and his brother Robert learned they could get a reduced life sentence for their involvement in the murder of UDA rival Tommy English in October 2000.

The elder of the Stewart brothers, who has become a Catholic, also claimed it was not until they were sentenced a year ago this month that they were told the amount of that reduction.

As it turned out, they only had to serve a minimum of three years of their life terms.

From the start of the marathon Belfast Crown Court non-jury trial, which began on September 6, they implicated 14 men, including alleged UVF commander and Special Branch agent Mark Haddock, in a catalogue of their UVF crimes.

Among the 37 charges faced by some of the accused is the murder of Mr English.

He was shot dead at the height of a feud within loyalism, and killed simply because he was a member of the UVF’s rival terror group, the UDA.

The brothers also gave evidence about attacks on three men who had run foul of the UVF, including a man suspected of being a paedophile.

The court heard one of their victims received a beating described by Robert Stewart as “one of the worst they (his UVF unit) had ever handed out”.

It is expected that the trial will be adjourned today following legal arguments and will resume again in the new year.

By Will Leitch
BBC

One of the biggest and most expensive criminal trials in Northern Irish legal history has adjourned for Christmas.

The Crown Court trial of 14 men, including the alleged special branch spy and alleged former UVF leader in north Belfast, Mark Haddock, will now resume in the New Year.

The defendants are implicated on the word of two men, brothers Robert and Ian Stewart.

All the 14 men accused deny all the charges against them.

Robert Stewart and his brother Ian have admitted UVF membership, and already served more than three years for their part in the murder of the UDA man Tommy English on Halloween night 2000.

Mr English was shot dead in front of his wife and children at his home on the Ballyduff estate at the height of a Loyalist feud between the UVF and UDA.

The Stewarts have given evidence and undergone weeks of sustained cross-examination by defence barristers.

Under legislation called the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, they have signed an agreement committing them to giving truthful evidence about the men in the dock.

In such cases, so-called “assisting offenders” can have their sentences reduced in return.

In the case of the Stewart brothers, both have avoided the prospect of a further 19 years in jail, providing they are seen to have kept the agreement.

They handed themselves in to police in August 2008, and underwent more than 330 police interviews in total, some of them at secret addresses outside Northern Ireland.

The trial began on 6 September.

By Deborah McAleese
Belfast Telegraph
Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Tensions between two factions of the UVF have escalated to dangerous levels, sparking concerns over the potential eruption of a bloody loyalist feud.

The Belfast Telegraph has learned that members of the loyalist paramilitary organisation were involved in a vicious street brawl outside an east Belfast bar yesterday morning after simmering hostilities spilled over into violence.

It is understood the clashes outside the Great Eastern Bar on the lower Newtownards Road were between members of the Shankill Road UVF and the UVF in east Belfast.

Police are now concerned about a possible escalation in violence between the warring parties.

A short time later two men were seriously hurt after a car was driven at a large crowd of people standing close to the scene of the earlier disturbances.

Another two people were less seriously injured in the incident, which happened at around 2.50am yesterday.

The car was discovered on fire in the Conway Street area of west Belfast a short time later.

Police said they are treating the incident as attempted murder and have appealed for witnesses.

Alliance East Belfast MP Naomi Long said she was “shocked and appalled” by the early morning attack, adding: “The person driving this car has clearly no thought for the lives of others.

“I hope that the four men injured will be able to make a swift and full recovery.”

Chairman of east Belfast District Policing Partnership, Jim Rodgers, added that people in the area were disturbed by news of the incident.

“This is supposed to be the season of goodwill, but it doesn’t seem to be goodwill to all,” the UUP councillor said.

Speaking about the fracas outside the bar, a loyalist source said: “This is between the UVF in the west and the UVF in the east.

“It is a very dangerous situation and people are bracing themselves for violent reprisals.

“We are expecting serious repercussions.”

The UVF in east Belfast has been making its presence felt over the past year with the painting of new paramilitary murals on the Newtownards Road, the flying of UVF flags, markings on a nearby bar stating ‘Property of the UVF’, and the organisation of riots at Short Strand during the summer.

This has led to tensions within the organisation, with the UVF’s east Belfast boss being ordered to stop getting involved in criminality by the leadership.

“Police are worried about what might happen next. We know that the UVF has guns — they were used to try and murder police officers during the Short Strand riots.

“There is a lot of concern about what might happen next,” the source added.

A report by the Independent Monitoring Commission released earlier this year said there was no reason to doubt the stated wish of the UVF leadership to pursue its strategy of becoming a civilian organisation.

However, concerns were raised in the report that “there are some within the organisation who are evidently not ready to accept the restraints on their behaviour which this means”.

Background

Loyalist paramilitaries have a history of bloody internal feuds. As far back as 1975 hostilities broke out between the UDA and the UVF and several people on both sides were killed before a truce.

In 2000 another feud between Johnny Adair’s UDA ‘C’ Company and the UVF led to the deaths of at least seven people including leading figures Jackie Coulter and Bobby Mahood.

Between 1999 and 2001 the LVF, made up of breakaway UVF members, also played its full part in feuding as it shot top UVF figure Richard Jameson dead on the outskirts of Portadown.

Independent.ie
Friday December 16 2011

THE official confirmation by the Historical Enquiries Team of collusion in the Miami Showband massacre of 1975 should surprise no one. It was widely known that UDR members of the UVF were involved and there was no serious attempt at the time to cleanse the UDR of loyalist terrorists. This was an utter scandal.

But it doesn’t stop there. Most of the UVF men responsible for the Miami massacre had probably been involved in the Dublin bombings the year before. Within a week of these bombings, I met a garda detective inspector in Dublin, who showed me a list of suspects. The only surname that I remember is Somerville, belonging to two UVF brothers, unspeakably evil associates of the supremely wicked Robin Jackson. I believe he too was one of the Dublin bombers.

However, the Dublin government chose not to seek the extradition of the UVF men who had caused the biggest loss of life in the Troubles. Quite simply, the State didn’t want later to have to extradite IRA terrorists as a quid pro quo for having got the Dublin bombers. There is no documentary trail to prove this assertion, just missing files and conspicuously discreet inertia. Thereafter, the UVF felt they were immune to the rule of law; and they were right, were they not? Thus the Miami Showband massacre; in scale not the worst of the atrocities, but in its diabolical inventiveness against such a group of harmless and naïve young men, easily one of the most depraved.

Two UVF men, Wesley Somerville and Harris Boyle, were killed in the premature explosion as they put the bomb on board the showband’s bus. In the butchery that followed, three young musicians were hunted down and murdered: Fran O’Toole, Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy. Brian was the son of the Orange Grand Master for Tyrone and he was buried in Caledon. Nineteen years later, Brian’s sister’s husband, Eric Smyth, a former soldier, was murdered by the IRA. She lost her brother to the UVF, and her husband to the IRA: a very model of Irish ecumenism.

I know, beyond all doubt, that senior members of the British government, army and RUC were aware of the degree to which the UVF had penetrated the UDR in the Dungannon/Portadown area. But I also know that the governments of the Republic of Ireland failed to act on the terrorism threat. Throughout this time, members of the IRA army council, such as Daithi O’Connell and Ruairi O Bradaigh, were living at home and running the IRA like a lawful business. Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy, who lived in Louth, was never once arrested throughout the Troubles. Successive governments of this Republic allowed the semi-autonomous IRA heartland of south Armagh to be extended across Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

Over time, Shinners and their fellow-travellers sedulously created a new folklore about the Troubles, which is rapidly becoming the standard narrative of a carefully monitored, daily updated internet campaign. This runs as follows: the Troubles — “the British war in Ireland” as Gerry Adams memorably called them in ‘The Guardian’ — were either the creation of the British or of loyalists working with their collusion. In reply, the IRA conducted a largely gallant Human Rights Struggle, which was marred by a few unfortunate excesses.

No serious counter-narrative is being offered to these myths. Indeed, if anything, official amnesia now prevails. When recently giving evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal into garda collusion with the IRA in Dundalk, I testified that a garda had given information to the IRA about the investigations into the murders of the British ambassador Christopher Ewart-Biggs and the Northern Ireland Office official Judith Cooke. Counsel for An Garda Siochana subsequently took advice and later rose to rebut my allegation, declaring I had confused it with the case of a garda who had been convicted of assisting MI5. I insisted that I was right and that counsel had been misinformed, adding that the garda concerned — whose name I had forgotten — had appeared in court.

THE tribunal has now written to me, accepting that my claim was correct. But how is it that the name of Garda Patrick Kirby, traitor and fellow traveller of the IRA, who was convicted of passing on information to the IRA on January 8, 1978, is not a name that endures in infamy within the corporate memory of An Garda Siochana? Well, in much the same way that almost no one remembers that if the Dublin bombers had been extradited to this Republic, as they could and should have been, there would have been no Miami Showband massacre.

Report on 1975 murders finds Robin Jackson was advised to lie low after his fingerprints were found on murder weapon

Henry McDonald
Guardian
15 Dec 2011

A loyalist assassin known as The Jackal received a tipoff from a senior police officer that helped him elude justice over the killing of an Irish pop band in the mid-1970s, according to a report.

The cold case police investigations unit, the Historical Enquiries Team (Het), found Robin Jackson was linked to the murders of three members of the Miami Showband in July 1975.

Miami Showband killings: Robin Jackson claimed he was tipped off that his fingerprints had been found on a silencer used in the murders. (Photograph: Kevin Boyes/Presseye)

The pop group were on their way back to Dublin when their minibus was stopped by a fake army patrol near the border. The Het report found that Jackson, a member of loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force from North Armagh, had been linked to one of the murder weapons by his fingerprints. But Jackson later claimed in police interviews he had been tipped off by a senior Royal Ulster Constabulary officer to lie low after the killings.

Jackson, who emigrated for a period of the 1980s to South Africa, has since died from cancer. In 1984 he helped organise the attempted murder of the then Sunday World northern editor Jim Campbell, who had named Jackson as the leader of the UVF in Mid-Ulster, which was responsible for shootings and bombings against nationalists in the so-called “Murder Triangle” of North Armagh.

The report, which was released on Wednesday, said Jackson claimed he was tipped off that his fingerprints had been found on a silencer attached to a Luger pistol used in the Miami Showband murders. The Het team said the murders raised “disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behaviour”. It said the review “has found no means to assuage or rebut these concerns and that is a deeply troubling matter”.

The bogus army patrol comprised soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment and UVF members in Armagh. Members of the band were made to line up at the side of the road while one UVF member tried to hide a bomb on the bus. The plan was that the bomb would explode en route, killing everyone on board as it entered Dublin. But the bomb went off prematurely, killing Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, who were members of the UDR, as well as the UVF.

After the explosion the other members of the UVF gang then opened fire on the band, killing lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty, and trumpeter Brian McCoy. The bass player, Stephen Travers, barely survived his injuries.

Three members of the UDR were eventually convicted for their part in the attack. James Somerville, Thomas Crozier and James McDowell received life sentences and remained in jail until their early release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 when republican and loyalist prisoners were given a de facto amnesty as part of the peace settlement.

Commenting on the report, band member Des McAlea, who survived the attack, said: “It’s been a long time but we’ve got justice at last.” He described the Het findings as “quite shocking” and “mind-blowing”. “The fact that there was collusion in this is such a tragedy for all of us concerned,” McAlea added. “To think that people were supposed to be protecting us and they were actually involved in this terrible tragedy.”

Spectre of collusion in Miami Showband killings
By Cormac O’Keeffe
Irish Examiner
Thursday, December 15, 2011

THE spectre of police collusion and corruption in the murders of three young men in The Miami Showband massacre over 36 years ago has been raised by an internal report of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The gun attack on July 31, 1975, occurred as a minibus carrying the band was stopped at a bogus checkpoint outside Newry, Co Armagh.

The group was returning from a gig in Banbridge, Co Down, to Dublin.

Three men were killed: Tony Geraghty, 24, from Crumlin, south Dublin; Brian McEvoy, 32, a married father of two originally from Tyrone but living in Raheny, north Dublin; and Fran O’Toole, 28, a married father of two from Bray, Co Wicklow.

Fellow band member Stephen Travers was seriously injured in the attack, while a fifth member, Des McAlea, was also injured.

Details of a report into the massacre, carried out by the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team, were released by the families of victims and survivors at a press conference in Dublin organised by Justice for the Forgotten and the Pat Finucane Centre.

The internal special investigative unit said the murder was a pre-planned attack carried out by the UVF loyalist terror gang, including members of the Ulster Defence Regiment, part of the British army.

The gang had intended to plant a bomb to detonate at a later stage, allowing some elements to claim the band was carrying bombs for the Provisional IRA. However, the bomb detonated prematurely killing two terrorists, Harris Boyle and Wesley Sommerville.

The band members had already been told to get out of the bus and, when the bomb exploded, six other gunmen opened fire.

Three men were later convicted of murder.

The team raised particular concern about the possible involvement of a notorious loyalist terrorist Robert Jackson, known as The Jackal, after a gun linked to the atrocity was found to have his fingerprints on it.

There was no evidence that this information was passed on to the Miami investigation team. Jackson also claimed he was tipped off about the fingerprint evidence by senior RUC officers prior to being arrested.

No evidence of an internal investigation in these allegations was found.

Travers, the band’s bass player, who survived by pretending to be dead, said the finding was alarming.

“We believe the only conclusion possible arising from the HET report is that one of the most prolific loyalist murderers of the conflict was an RUC Special Branch agent and was involved in the Miami Showband attack.”

The HET found Jackson’s “stark” claims that he was told to lie low were passed on to RUC headquarters and the force’s complaints and discipline department but there were no records of any further investigation.

“To the objective, impartial observer, disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behaviour are raised,” it concluded.

“The HET review has found no means to assuage or rebut these concerns and this is a deeply troubling matter.”

The report has been sent to the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland.

Mr Travers, Mr McAlea and families of the deceased all said they were “reasonably happy” with the report, although Mr McAlea said he wanted the PSNI chief constable and the DPP to tell him why nobody was charged with his attempted murder.

Tour turns to terror

THE Miami Showband were one of the Ireland’s most popular live bands throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

The group, originally known as Downbeats Quartet, were formed in 1962 under Tom Doherty.

With seven number one songs, including There’s Always Me and Simon Says, the band enjoyed a large following as they relentlessly toured Ireland.

On July 31, 1975, the showband was returning from performing at a dance in Banbridge, Co Down, when their minibus was flagged down by men dressed in British army uniforms on the road to the border town of Newry.

Band members were told to line up in a ditch while UVF members posing as Ulster Defence Regiment members tried to plant a bomb on the minibus, which they hoped would explode later on as the musicians headed home to Dublin.

As the gang loaded the bomb, the musicians were asked for their names and addresses, but it exploded prematurely, killing UVF members Harris Boyle and Wesley Sommerville.

After the explosion, the UVF gang was ordered to open fire on the band, killing Fran O’Toole, Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy. Stephen Travers was seriously injured yet survived by pretending he was dead, while the explosion blew Des McAlea clear of the immediate danger, and he escaped with scratches and severe shock.

Later that year Mr McAlea and Mr Travers reformed the band, but both men soon left, leaving the New Miami to tour, eventually disbanding in 1986.

The Miami name returned once again in 1996, this time fronted by Gerry Brown, brother of singer Dana.

The band performed on the 30th anniversary of the atrocity, with Mr McAlea and Mr Travers reuniting on stage at a Miami Showband Memorial Concert at Vicar Street in 2005.

Herald.ie
14 December 2011

Former Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) leader Robin Jackson was allowed by state forces to kill with impunity, Sinn Fein have said.

John O’Dowd, the party’s Upper Bann MLA, said the now dead loyalist was a known security forces agent and a blind eye was turned to his reign of terror.

“This speaks volumes about the British state’s involvement in the conflict and rather than claim, as they did, that they were impartial observers or some sort of peace keeper, they were in fact up to their necks in facilitating and possibly encouraging sectarian killings and much more,” he said.

Mr O’Dowd blamed the British Government’s reluctance to support an independent international truth commission on the potential fall-out from revelations about agents like Jackson.

Dolores Kelly, SDLP Upper Bann MLA, said the Historical Enquiries Team report on the Miami Showband killings underlined the need for a proper process to deal with the past.

She said: “There has been a long-held belief that there were people in the security forces, including the RUC, who were involved in brutal crimes. This report confirms that and is a vindication of the families’ campaign.”

Ms Kelly said it also confirmed very serious failures in the RUC’s investigation of serious crimes.

“The enormous question about why Robin Jackson was allowed to carry out this terror and inflict so much pain on victims over such a long period of time must be answered by the state as we cannot help but think if he had been put behind bars some people’s lives may have been spared,” she said.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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