A key prosecution witness in the investigation into the killing of loyalist boss Tommy English is a “psychopathic” alcoholic and drug addict, the High Court has heard.
So-called supergrass Robert Stewart's recollection of a beating he inflicted was among the most disturbing accounts possible, a defence lawyer claimed.
The withering assessment came as one of the men charged with murdering English 10 years ago was granted bail.
Darren Moore (40), formerly of Mount Vernon Park, Belfast, is also accused of membership of the UVF. He denies the offences.
He is among nine men due to stand trial for murder following an investigation by detectives from the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team.
English (40), a senior member of the UDA, was gunned down at his home on the Ballyduff estate, just outside north Belfast, in a loyalist feud in October 2000.
The case against the suspects depends heavily on evidence supplied by two brothers from Newtownabbey, Robert and David Stewart, who are serving jail terms after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting in the murder and dozens of other terrorist offences.
They gave accounts of how the killing was planned, with roles assigned to members of the UVF gang allegedly responsible.
But during Moore's bail application his barrister Joe Brolly attacked their credibility.
“Both of them are self-confessed alcoholics and drug addicts,” he told the court.
Referring to a statement by Robert Stewart about a beating he carried out, Mr Brolly said: “I also used the word psychopathic. What it illustrates really is some of the most disturbing material it would be possible to read.”
According to Mr Brolly, he stated: “I can't be sure how many bones I broke... It was definitely one of the worst beatings I ever gave anybody. I nearly broke every bone in his body.”
The lawyer also argued Stewart gave conflicting accounts of a reconnaissance trip to the English house ahead of the shooting.
After hearing submissions Mr Justice McLaughlin ruled it was appropriate to grant the application on strict conditions, including a night-time curfew.