Loyalist supergrass Robert Stewart has told a court that he had sex with under-age girls on three occasions, but rejected defence suggestions he was a liar motivated by opportunistic self-preservation and greed.
The 37-year-old witness also agreed with a second defence lawyer that he was “a right nasty piece of work”, but denied being “corrupt to the core”.
Stewart was giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court against 14 men in a catalogue of UVF terrorist crime, including the murder of UDA leader Tommy English in 2000.
Defence QC Barry Macdonald, representing David ‘Reggie' Miller (39), began his cross-examination by asking him how Miller could be in a flat plotting a murder while police had him six miles away.
Stewart repeated that he had already told the court “people could have popped out... but he was definitely there”.
Mr Macdonald suggested to Stewart that he was a habitual liar and a thief, to which came the reply that he had been “trained by my old friends”.
Later, when Stewart admitted that at the ages of 20, 21 and 24 that he had had sex with under-age girls, he again suggested that others were equally as guilty.
“Well, there's plenty of people in the dock that's the same,” he claimed.
However, while Stewart reluctantly agreed he had a bad character, he rejected out of hand the suggestion that he was “corrupt to the core”.
“I am obviously not a nice person,” said Stewart, before agreeing that he was “a rotten egg at times” and ultimately that he was “a right nasty piece of work”.
Questioned about his motivation for going to the police, Stewart said when he did so he'd been a “terrorist for 14 years... but there was no shining light that came down”.
Denying that he was still a terrorist attempting to “exploit the system”, Stewart claimed that: “The only thing that sets me free is the truth... the only things your clients have is lies.”
Mr Macdonald then put it to the witness that the only reason he'd given himself up to police was because he was “on the run from the UVF and saw a way out. You wanted a deal with police, and wanted to trade the information you had in exchange for protection”.
While replying with a straight “no”, Stewart did say that logically he would “obviously need protection”.
However, he denied that he made any deal with the authorities: “There's no house in Malibu, if that's what your asking... I haven’t gained anything.”
Stewart is to be cross-examined again today.