'Smirking' UVF chief 'ordered hit'
Loyalist leader Mark Haddock smirked as he dispatched a hit team to gun down a paramilitary rival, a self-confessed member of the murder plot has told a court.
Robert Stewart, who has turned Crown evidence against the alleged Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) commander and 13 other men facing paramilitary-linked charges, said Haddock directed the plan to kill Ulster Defence Association (UDA) boss Tommy English 11 years ago.
"Haddock - he was running the whole thing," Stewart told Belfast Crown Court.
English, 40, was gunned down in his house in front of his wife and three young children just after 6pm on Halloween night in 2000 during a bloody feud between the UDA and UVF.
Stewart, 37, from north Belfast, claimed Haddock and other senior UVF members in the north of the city planned the killing in retaliation for the shooting of a colleague.
At the outset of the trial, the prosecution witness recounted how he, Haddock and a number of the co-accused gathered in a flat a mile-and-a-half from where English lived on the morning of the murder to discuss the plot.
Stewart, facing the 14 defendants as he gave evidence to a packed courtroom, said Haddock delivered a chilling parting message to the murder gang as he left two hours before the shooting in north Belfast.
"Mark Haddock said try to miss the kids," said Stewart. When asked by Crown lawyer Gordon Kerr QC what way Haddock had said it, Stewart replied: "He had a smirk on his face."
The 14 face a litany of paramilitary charges, with most facing counts linked to the murder of English, in one of the largest trials in Northern Ireland in decades. They all deny the charges.
Stewart and his brother David Ian Stewart have both turned state's evidence.