Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Named and shamed: killers put back in jail

'They should never be let loose again'

Ten killers convicted for their roles in at least 29 murders were sent back to prison after being freed under early release schemes linked to the Good Friday Agreement, it can be revealed today.

Ten killers convicted for their roles in at least 29 murders were sent back to prison after being freed under early release schemes linked to the Good Friday Agreement, it can be revealed today.

A Belfast Telegraph probe has uncovered the names of all ten murderers who were returned to jail because they were convicted of new offences or because their behaviour again brought them to the attention of police.

Seven loyalists and one republican are back serving their life sentences, while two - Shankill bomber Sean Kelly and loyalist double killer Darren Larmour - have been released again.

Kelly was controversially freed in July by Secretary of State Peter Hain just before the IRA statement pledging to end all activity.

Larmour was freed on compassionate grounds because he has an incurable brain disease.

East Londonderry Assembly member John Dallat today condemned the killers who strayed again, saying: "They should never be let loose again.

"It's clear that a lot of loyalists got out of jail who were just thugs and made no use of the new opportunity.

"The greater number didn't reoffend but those loyalists that did have let down political leaders who were trying to be positive. Now they're behind bars, they should stay there."

The most high profile killer back behind bars is Greysteel gunman Stephen Irwin, who was last month jailed again for slashing a football fan's leg.

Another sent back for a new offence was Christopher McMillan, who murdered Norman Harley at Belfast Waterworks in November 1995. He was reincarcerated after assaulting an ex-girlfriend in England.

Others returned to prison for new crimes include George Armstrong who was jailed in 1990 for his part in the murder of James Hamilton at his home in Belfast.

After being freed he was jailed in England for false imprisonment of a man he accused of being an undercover SAS officer.

Armstrong and McMillan's licences have been revoked.

Only two others have had their licences revoked - loyalist Victor Graham who was jailed for two murders, and republican John Brady, who was given a life sentence for the 1989 murder of Reserve Constable David Black in Strabane.

Three others are back behind bars because their licences were suspended - licences are not classified as revoked unless there has been a review.

One is John Marsden, who was jailed for the UVF murder of two Catholics in Belfast in 1994.

Two others are not being named for legal reasons as they face current court proceedings.

The Prison Service confirmed today that eight of the lifers who were reincarcerated are still in custody.

In addition, two killers released on temporary licence in 2000 have also been returned to jail.

They are Stephen McClean (31), and Noel McCready (34), who are serving life sentences for the 1998 murders in the Railway Bar in Poyntzpass.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Mitchel McLaughlin today said: "The fact that over 80% were loyalists would signify the commitment of republicans to the Good Friday Agreement."

But PUP leader David Ervine said the number was a tiny percentage of those who have been released early since the late 1980s.

He added: "You have to be relieved to some degree that there isn't a desire to commit political violence and that's a major move from the past."

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