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LVF leadership to taste freedom

Most notorious will walk after ceasefire move

By Dan McGinn

Published 14/11/1998

SOME of the most notorious figures in Ulster loyalism will be back on the streets following the Secretary of State's acceptance of the LVF ceasefire.

SOME of the most notorious figures in Ulster loyalism will be back on the streets following the Secretary of State's acceptance of the LVF ceasefire.

Twenty-two prisoners will qualify for early release under the Good Friday Agreement's accelerated prisoner release scheme.

Nineteen are housed in H Block 6. Three are in Maghaberry. Eight are currently on remand.

Among them is the LVF leader in the Maze, Robin 'Billy' King _ a long-time associate of Billy Wright.

Originally from Lurgan, King was jailed in 1994 for 16 years for conspiracy to commit murder and was described in court as a director of operations for the UVF in mid-Ulster during the early 1990s.

As Officer in Command for the LVF prisoners in the Maze, he was one of the first people to signal the organisation's intention to declare a ceasefire and begin decommissioning.

Another senior figure on the wing is Gary Blair, reported to be one of the group's main political strategists.

A former member of the North Antrim UDA brigade which defected to the LVF, he was given life imprisonment in 1993 for his role in the murder of former Sinn Fein candidate Martin Carey in Ballymoney the previous December.

Torrens Knight and Jeffrey Deeney are two of the best known names in the LVF wing.

Both were convicted along with Stephen Irwin and Brian McNeill of the UFF attack on the Rising Sun pub in Greysteel on October 30, 1993 killing seven people.

Shankill Road man Norman Green joined the LVF from the UFF wing after a row in the Maze Prison with leading loyalist Johnny Adair.

He was serving a 16 year sentence imposed in September 1995 for conspiracy to commit murder after police intercepted a car in which he was travelling in north Belfast.

Green was also found guilty of possessing a loaded .38 Smith and Wesson revolver with intent to endanger life.

He was in the same van when Billy Wright was shot dead in the Maze last December as it prepared to ferry the LVF leader to the prison's visitors' centre.

Remand prisoners, Ryan Thomas Robley from Banbridge, Noel William Joseph McCready and Stephen James McClean, who are all awaiting trial for the murders of Philip Allen and Damien Trainor, will also qualify for the accelerated prisoner release scheme, if convicted.

A fourth suspect in the Poyntzpass killings, David Keys was beaten to death in the LVF wings.

Belfast Telegraph

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