Johnny Adair murder conspirator boasted to his girlfriend: I’m trying to get a war started
Irishman Antoin Duffy, who boasted of "doing the IRA proud", was the driving force behind a plot to murder former loyalist leader Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair.
Duffy was passionate about a united Ireland and believed that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were "traitors" who had sold out the republican cause by agreeing to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
The jury heard that Duffy planned his campaign to murder Adair and his former right hand man Sam McCrory from his cell in Castle Huntly open prison in Scotland. One of the books found in his cell was a copy of Adair's autobiography Mad Dog.
Duffy believed Adair and McCrory were responsible for ordering the murders of dozens of innocent Catholics during the Troubles and should die.
He wanted to shoot McCrory dead first using a pistol or revolver and then quickly target Adair using an AK-47 assault rifle he called "the big fella".
Every few weeks while on home leave from Castle Huntly back to his flat in Old Castle Road, Glasgow, Duffy sprang into action, meeting, phoning and texting criminal associates in a bid to get his hands on weapons.
In a bugged conversation he was heard boasting to girlfriend Stacey McAllister: "I'm trying to get a war started and get as many guns and explosives as I can."
Duffy enlisted his cousin Martin Hughes as his right hand man and recruited fellow prisoner, Ayr man Paul Sands - a Facebook friend of McCrory - who knew McCrory's daily routine.
Duffy is heard to tell co-accused Hughes in a bugged conversation: "We can stand with the best of them in history. This is the f***ing bastard that killed 50 of our people."
Hughes replied: "Have to get him before he gets ours."
But the conspirators didn't know MI5 had got wind of their plans and had authorised the bugging of Duffy's flat. Hughes' car also had a bug placed in it and undercover police followed them.
The paperwork for the surveillance was so secretive that there is no signature on it. The document on MI5-headed notepaper has a number where the signature would normally be. The surveillance began in December 12, 2012, but when MI5's authorisation period ended they handed the operation to Police Scotland and no MI5 operatives gave evidence at the 10-week trial of Duffy, Hughes and Sands at the High Court in Glasgow.
Duffy and Hughes were also bugged as they drove in Hughes' Mercedes jeep from Glasgow to the Ayrshire home of former UDA and UFF boss McCrory, on October 1, 2013.
They met Sands in Ayrshire and he directed them to right outside McCrory's house.
Sands said: "There are so many places you could hit this guy. It's unbelievable. I mean I could go and tap his door right now and we could probably put him in the boot if three of us could manage it, know what I mean?"
Duffy then said: "A sawn-off and a revolver as the back-up."
As the jeep approaches the street in which McCrory lives, Sands is heard to say: "This is the road he walks every single day. You can't go wrong. It is a straight road."
There is then a discussion about cameras at a nearby school and shops and the best vantage points to get their target.
Duffy goes on: "I just need a quick look. I almost hit him a couple of years ago."
He then added: "We'll just drive up to him and f***in jump out and blast him. In his ear. There's an AK that could possibly be getting made available for us with armour-piercing rounds. The thing about that is that's it's too f***in high profile for this first."
Duffy said he wanted to kill McCrory first and thought that using an AK-47 on him would lead to Adair running scared.
Duffy's cellmate in Castle Huntly, Edward McVeigh (27), revealed that Duffy hated Adair and talked of shooting him as he walked his dog or trained at the gym.
He said that Duffy was a republican sympathiser who claimed he was a member of the Real IRA.
Paul Kearney, prosecuting, said Duffy intended to pull the trigger himself. Mr McVeigh added: "Antoin had a bitterness and hate because the British ruled the north of Ireland and British soldiers were still occupying the north. He wanted a united Ireland."
The court heard Duffy was so charismatic that he persuaded McVeigh, who was from a fiercely loyalist background, to convert to Catholicism.
Duffy, who was serving a five-year sentence for having a gun in a Glasgow nightclub, also used his time in jail to contact people who might be able to source guns.
He, Hughes and Sands were detained on October 23, 2013, the same day that police raided a flat in Green Road, Paisley and found an AK-47 in a locked cupboard in the common close outside the flat, hidden under Christmas decorations and an old Hoover.
The flat was being rented by co-accused Gordon Brown's wife's brother, who denied any knowledge of the assault rifle.
Police believe that Duffy was just weeks away from carrying out his plan to murder Adair and McCrory. He was just waiting to get his hands on weapons.
Duffy even approached Celtic star Anthony Stokes in the Brazen Head pub on September 1, asking him to get his father to pass a message on to someone in Ireland to obtain weapons.
Regulars reacted with fury to this and Duffy was thrown out of the pub and seen jumping up and down with rage out in the street by undercover police.
In evidence, McCrory admitted that the killing of him and Adair would be "huge scalps for dissident republican groups".
Adair said that in October 2013 he returned from holiday to be told by police that his life was in danger from dissident republicans and to step up his security.
He added: "All that was supposed to be over, but from their point of view I would see myself as a target as a leader of loyalism."
When asked who he thought would target him replied: "All dissident republicans."
Adair, who had been brigadier of C Company UFF in Belfast's Shankill Road, told the court he was now a man of peace and that republican dissidents, whom he described as fools and criminals, were shooting soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland.
Mr Kearney said: "Do you consider yourself as irrelevant to Northern Ireland politics now?"
Adair replied: "Yes, but I still get visited by police telling me my life is in danger from dissident republicans and told to step up my security."
Asked if his group was responsible for the murder of up to 40 Catholics, he said: "It has been reported as that."