Belfast Telegraph

Supergrass trial: Informer admits he lied to police

Informer admits lying to police but claims 'my nerves were shot'

By Victoria O'Hara

A loyalist at the heart of Northern Ireland's largest supergrass trial for 25 years has admitted lying to police, but rejected claims he fabricated Mark Haddock's alleged role in the killing of a paramilitary rival.

During the second day in the witness box at Belfast Crown Court convicted terrorist Robert Stewart revealed he made up parts of his evidence in initial police interviews.

The 37-year-old claimed he lied because he did not want to involve two of the accused.

Yesterday he insisted he was now telling the "God's honest truth".

The former paramilitary, who is giving evidence against alleged UVF commander Haddock and 13 other defendants, also revealed he was an alcoholic and habitual drug user who suffered memory problems.

Along with his brother David, the Stewarts have turned State's evidence in return for a reduced sentence in pleading guilty to aiding and abetting the murder of leading UDA man Tommy English on Halloween night in 2000.

The details of his drug and alcohol addiction emerged during the non-jury trial in front of judge Justice John Gillen yesterday.

English (40) was gunned down in his house in front of his wife and three young children during a bloody feud between the UDA and UVF.

Under cross-examination by Mark Haddock's barrister Frank O'Donoghue QC, Stewart told the court he and his brother had "conspired" to leave two people out of involvement in the murder.

He rejected the suggestion that they may have "also conspired to put other people into the story".

Earlier Mr O'Donoghue accused Stewart of fabricating his evidence that his client had plotted the shooting in a flat in the hours before the attack.

"I want to suggest to you that you have made that up, that's a cock and bull story and under no circumstances was Mr Haddock ever there (in the flat)," he said.

"Then I would say Mr Haddock is lying," Stewart replied.

Reading the original transcripts of police interviews in August 2008, Mr O'Donoghue pressed Stewart about contradictions in his evidence.

This included discrepancies in what weapons were present and whether or not there had been a scouting trip to English's house.

Stewart repeatedly explained to the court he gave incorrect information because his "nerves were shot" at the time.

He also said when first questioned by police he was "under a lot of pressure".

"It was a monumental thing we had done that day and I have got a few things up the left," he said.

"There were pixies running about, the state I was in at that time." He said he had gone to the authorities to open up because his paramilitary lifestyle had "just been eating away at me over the years".

"Over the years the things we had done caught up with us, we wanted to make a clean breast of things," he said.

"It's not easy to live with those sort of things."

Stewart also told Mr O'Donoghue he could try "to pick holes" in what he told police, but that his "evidence to the court is true".

Mr O'Donoghue told the court that his client Haddock had nothing to do with the murder of UDA rival Tommy English and had neither planned nor prepared it beforehand.

Stewart told the court that "everybody sitting in that dock should be there".

"You either believe me or you don't".

Earlier Stewart also revealed that in the 11 days before he and his brother handed themselves over to the police, they went initially to Scotland.

The court heard Stewart, who admitted taking cocaine, cannabis, LSD, glue and Valium, stole around £2,000 from their parents' house.

The brothers decided to use the money and leave Northern Ireland at the time.

After arriving in Scotland, they then spent time near Stansted in England, before travelling back to Portrush in Northern Ireland.

He said it was there they decided to hand themselves over to the Historical Enquiry Team (HET).

Stewart denied they made the decision after seeing a newspaper article saying that the Historical Enquiries Team had received an additional £1m funding.

He denied that the reason the brothers had confessed was for money. The witness said they handed themselves to the HET rather than the police because of his belief that Haddock worked as a police agent.

"We didn't trust the police because Mr Haddock worked for them," he said.

Trial continues.

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