Loyalist supergrass ‘could help to catch Raymond McCord killers’
Evidence provided by a loyalist supergrass could see a breakthrough in the police hunt for the UVF killers of a former RAF member, a court has heard.
Coroner John Leckey has adjourned inquest proceedings into the 1997 death of 22-year-old Raymond McCord Jnr in north Belfast to see if testimony provided by the so-called “assisting offender” will prompt charges.
At a preliminary hearing in Belfast, a police lawyer confirmed the process of interviewing the offender was near completion.
It is understood he is providing state's evidence on a range of crimes committed by the notorious UVF gang from north Belfast's Mount Vernon estate that beat Mr McCord to death and dumped his body in a Newtownabbey quarry.
A lawyer for the McCords said this could prompt police action in regard to the murder.
At yesterday's hearing, lawyers for Mr McCord's parents, who were present in court, told Mr Leckey that they wanted to see the police investigation completed before an inquest was heard.
“There's an assisting offender who is currently involved in a process with the PSNI,” said Paddy Murray, representing Mr McCord's mother Vivienne.
“I understand that process is nearing completion, if not completed. That process could raise very serious issues.”
Richard Ferguson, representing the PSNI, concurred that the process of taking evidence from the assisting offender was nearing completion.
Catherine O'Hanlon, representing Mr McCord’s father Raymond Snr, said he also wanted the adjournment but she put on record his disappointment the police had not made more progress.
Mr Leckey said he would adjourn proceedings until September 7, when he hoped the police would be in a position to outline the situation in more clarity.
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An investigation by former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, published in 2007, revealed large-scale collusion between the Mount Vernon UVF and the police, which ran agents inside the gang. The PSNI's Operation Stafford is currently probing crimes committed by the loyalist gang. Earlier this year nine men, including alleged UVF commander Mark Haddock, were cleared of murdering UDA chief Tommy English after a lengthy trial which saw evidence provided by two other supergrasses heavily criticised by the judge.