Jail term slashed for supergrass LVF thug
A one-time “enforcer” in the LVF, formerly charged with murdering a journalist, has been jailed for three years for his involvement in a catalogue of crimes.
Jailing 32-year-old Neil Hyde at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Patrick Lynch QC told him that had he not agreed to identify the alleged culprits in the murder of Sunday World investigative reporter Martin O'Hagan, and give evidence about the activities of the outlawed LVF, he would have jailed him for 18 years.
He told Hyde that having been recruited into the LVF in 1996, “by virtue of your size and propensity for violence, it appears that you were useful to the organisation as an enforcer and embarked on a career of sustained criminality over the next 15 years”.
Among the 48 charges which Hyde pleaded guilty to — having signed a contract under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act to get a massively reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony — are possessing handguns with intent to endanger life, withholding information about terrorist attacks, robbery, aggravated burglary and drug-running offences, all committed between January 1992 and January 2008.
Count 24, of conspiring with Drew King and others to possess a handgun on September 28, 2001, relates to the murder of 51-year-old journalist and father-of-two Mr O'Hagan, who was gunned down in front of his wife near his Lurgan home.
Outside the court, editor of the Sunday World and close friend of Mr O’Hagan, Jim McDowell, said the result was “a start”. “I want the police now to go and get the people, the real LVF killers and drug dealers who murdered my colleague,” he said.