Undercover police officers posing as a crime gang encouraged a top loyalist to make admissions which led to him being jailed for nearly 50 terrorist offences, the Court of Appeal has heard.
Lawyers for Jim Fulton (40) also claimed he was denied a fair trial before being found guilty of a catalogue of offences. Fulton, formerly of Portadown, is appealing convictions which led to a minimum 25-year sentence being imposed in January 2007.
The case against him was heavily based on secretly recorded conversations he had with detectives.
Fulton was hired as a driver for the team, whose members made out they were involved in stealing lorries.
Unknown to him, however, his conversations were taped and then used to help secure guilty verdicts for 48 offences, including aiding and abetting in the murder of Co Armagh grandmother Elizabeth O’Neill.
Fulton was also jailed for seven attempted murders, directing terrorism, membership of the outlawed Loyalist Volunteer Force, and possession of the gun which killed Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick at the height of the Drumcree marching dispute in 1996.
His challenge to all but three of the convictions centres on whether the recordings should have been admissible at trial. The appeal continues.