Funeral for Shankill Butcher McAllister's partner after death on holiday with evil killer
The long-term partner of Shankill Butcher Sam McAllister was cremated yesterday in Belfast.
The serial killer had been on holiday with his partner Jackie Maitland when she died unexpectedly.
Arrangements were made to fly her body home with the help of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.
Yesterday Ms Maitland's family gathered at Roselawn Crematorium in Belfast to say their farewells.
Known as 'Big' Sam in his youth, McAllister was one of the ruthless murder gang that conducted a reign of terror across Belfast in the 1970s, torturing, mutilating and killing at least 23 people.
McAllister was said to use his bulk to intimidate the gang's victims.
While most of the victims were Catholic, they included four Protestant civilians, as well as two loyalist paramilitaries.
McAllister was jailed along with 10 other members of the gang in February 1979, convicted of a total of 19 murders.
Forty-two life sentences were handed down, the most dealt out at a single trial in British history. However, McAllister was released from the Maze in 1995.
Fellow gang members Robert 'Basher' Bates and William Moore, who were told initially they would have no chance of being released, were both soon out too.
Bates was freed two years after the paramilitary ceasefires of 1994 and Moore got out under the Good Friday Agreement.
Bates was shot dead in 1997 as part of a loyalist feud, and Moore died in 2009 aged 60 in his Mount Vernon flat.
The gang's leader Lenny Murphy was never prosecuted for his role in the murders.
He was gunned down by the IRA in November 1982.
Evil Murphy was the man who devised the gang's devastating method of identifying victims along the geographical sectarian lines of Belfast.
Victims were tortured, had their throats cut with a butcher's knife and were attacked with hatchets.
After moving initially to Lisburn after his release from prison, heavy-set McAllister returned to the Shankill, where he has been attacked at least twice, once with a hatchet.
A source said: "He keeps his head down now, but it's a disgrace that he's able to get on with his life so easily back where it all happened, even going for a nice New Year holiday and all sorts when his poor victims, who died in such a horrific way, are lying in the ground."