Court told 10,000 pages of evidence in supergrass trial
Prosecution papers currently being prepared for a preliminary enquiry involving former UVF man turned 'supergrass' Gary Haggarty amount to around 10,000 in number, a court has heard.
The case against Haggarty was listed at Belfast Magistrates Court, where a date was due to be fixed to hold the preliminary enquiry.
The 42-year-old is facing a string of charges including the murder of Belfast taxi driver William Harbinson, who was beaten to death in the Mount Vernon estate in May 1997.
He is also facing terrorist-related offences including belonging to a proscribed organisation namely the UVF, directing terrorism and conspiracy to murder, as well as firearms and explosive offences. The charges cover a period from December 1998 to February 2007.
Although no details about his arrest were given during yesterday's hearing, it is understood that whilst in custody, Haggarty, of no fixed abode, agreed to become an assisting offender and give evidence against his former fellow paramilitaries – effectively turn supergrass – in January 2010. When asked about the progression of the PE in court, a representative from the PPS said papers were currently being prepared and would be served on the defence by September 29.
The PPS representative revealed that following further recent police interviews conducted with Haggarty, consideration was being taken "at a high level" and discussions were ongoing regarding a number of other offences. Telling the court the arising charges could amount to around 500, the Crown representative said "once that has been done, the PE papers will be finalised". She also revealed that the case amounted to around "10,000 pages in volume".
At the same court, defence lawyer John Greer asked that bail conditions be relaxed against two of his clients in a case which "ties in" with Gary Haggarty.
Belfast men Mark Trevor Campbell (43), from Canning Place, and 48-year old James Stewart Smyth, from Forthriver Link, were arrested over the murder of Catholic workmen Gary Convie and Eamon Fox. The two men were shot dead sitting in a car eating their lunch at a building site on North Queen Street in Belfast in May 1994.
Previous court hearings have been told that the charges were brought as a result of information supplied by Gary Haggarty. Mr Greer said he had been informed that the Crown would be seeking an adjournment in the case "to see what was going to happen with Gary Haggarty". The bail hearing was adjourned until Friday to allow for further information to be received.