Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

The fugitives

These are three of the five most wanted people in Ulster today

THE three men in these photographs are among Northern Ireland's "most wanted."

THE three men in these photographs are among Northern Ireland's "most wanted."

Today the Belfast Telegraph names five suspects whom police urgently want to question about crimes ranging from murder to drug dealing and sexual assault.

Aidan Phillips, Liam 'Fat Boy' Mooney and Gerard 'Ula' McCrory (pictured left to right) Stephen 'Brunt' Smith and Frankie 'Studs' Lanigan, are not wanted terrorists.

In the supremely ironic idiom of the Troubles they are so-called "ordinary decent criminals".

And they are just a few of the thousands of Ulster fugitives on the databases of wanted suspects held by the RUC, Garda and Scottish police.

Lanigan is currently wanted for questioning in connection with two drugs related murders.

He has been on the run since the murder of 22-year-old John Knocker at the Glengannon Hotel outside Dungannon in May 1998.

Lanigan, who was shot twice by an INLA gang in 1995, was named in court as the gunman. The Belfast Telegraph now understands he is also wanted for questioning about the murder of Brendan 'Bap' Campbell in February 1998.

At the time the drug dealer's killing outside Plank's Restaurant was linked to the IRA's Direct Action Against Drugs unit.

Lanigan initially fled to the Republic but it is understood he is now in Spain.

Gerard 'Ula' McCrory is believed to move between houses in the province and the Republic.

He is wanted for questioning about the murder of father-of-four Hugh McKee who was stabbed in a north Belfast taxi premises last Christmas.

The 34-year-old from Twinbrook died of a single wound after being stabbed at Orchard Cabs on the Antrim Road.

Mr McKee's family has claimed that he was in fear of his life as a result of a 10-year personal vendetta.

Suspected drugs barons Liam 'Fat Boy' Mooney and Stephen 'Brunt' Smith have been seen in Belfast even though they are wanted by the Garda on major drugs charges.

Mooney, from Loughby Park in Carryduff, and Smith, from the Lower Falls Road, were due to go on trial in Dublin last December charged with possessing £200,000 of cannabis but failed to turn up.

The court immediately issued a bench warrant for their arrest but no extradition proceedings were launched.

Mooney has escaped several murder bids in the past and his brother Mickey was shot dead in 1995 at the 18 Steps Bar in Belfast's Ann Street.

Inquiries with Garda and RUC sources confirmed that they are not being sought within Northern Ireland even though they are wanted in the Republic.

A Garda spokesman said that no extradition warrants have been issued because they have no exact addresses for the pair.

Another fugitive being sought across the UK is Aidan Gerard Phillips from Donemana.

The 24-year-old is on Grampian Police's most wanted list in connection with a serious sexual assault almost seven years ago when a 25-year-old woman was attacked by a man in Aberdeen city centre.

The Tyrone bricklayer, whose case was the subject of a BBC Crimewatch appeal, had been charged but fled before his High Court appearance. The RUC's database listing these and other fugitives, including paramilitary suspects such as former MP Owen Carron and double IRA killer Liam Averill who escaped from the Maze Prison dressed as a woman, includes some 3,000 names.

An RUC spokesman said today there are currently 2,939 individuals on the wanted database with 1,644 being actively pursued for interview about various crimes.

Officers from other police forces seeking people from Northern Ireland are also in regular touch with the RUC for assistance in cases.

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