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Death driver Anto Hagans hired by Sinn Fein linked group to repair IRA memorial

By Ciaran Barnes

Published 22/03/2016

Anto Hagans working on a Republican Mural at Divismore Way.
Anto Hagans working on a Republican Mural at Divismore Way.
Anto Hagans working on a Republican Mural at Divismore Way

A murdering death driver has been employed by a Sinn Fein-linked group to renovate an IRA memorial just yards from the spot where a teenage girl was killed by a stolen car.

Notorious criminal Anto Hagans has spent the past week working at the Ballymurphy remembrance garden in west Belfast.

Last Wednesday, Sunday Life pictured the 51-year-old double killer touching up plaques at its gates.

The snap was taken after locals who saw Hagans with a paint brush in hand contacted this newspaper to complain.

They expressed amazement that Sinn Fein-linked group Remembering Our Volunteers, which maintains the memorial, would let him anywhere near the shrine to dead IRA members.

This is because in 1979 Hagans killed west Belfast pensioner Kathleen Rosbotham in a stolen car, and in 2001 he stabbed dad-of-two David Finn to death at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant.

One horrified Ballymurphy resident told this newspaper: “The memorial garden is just yards from the spot where Debbie McComb, a wee girl aged 15, was killed by death drivers.

DISGUSTED

“It’s insulting to both her, the McComb family and republicans to have Anto Hagans, a killer death driver and out and out criminal, maintaining the memorial.

“This community is disgusted that this has been allowed to happen.

“The families of the IRA volunteers listed on the memorial will also be raging, they have had their image tarnished by this.”

A Sinn Fein spokesman said the upkeep of the memorial garden was not its responsibility.

Republican sources told Sunday Life that Anto Hagans was asked to renovate the IRA Ballymurphy memorial because he is a talented artist.

They say ex-Provos in the area must have known of his convictions before he carried out the work, pointing to the many newspaper and online articles about the double killer.

Hagans honed his artistic skills during the 23 years he has spent behind bars for ending the lives of two innocents.

He first went to jail as a teenager in 1979 when he stole a car belonging to west Belfast pensioner Kathleen Rosbotham.

The 65-year-old confronted Hagans outside her home in the Twinbrook estate but he mowed her down.

Kathleen died in hospital from her injuries and Hagans, who fled across the border before returning to Belfast, was eventually caged for causing death by dangerous driving.

In 2001 the death driver would kill again – this time his victim was 32-year-old David Finn who he murdered at a McDonald’s restaurant in the centre of Belfast.

The pair got into an argument at the front door and Hagans pulled out a knife and stabbed his victim, a dad of two, in the heart.

He was given a life sentence for the killing and ordered to serve a minimum of 12 years.

In 2014 Hagans, who recently became a grandfather, was released on licence.

But then he got involved in a street brawl with local republican Seamy Sullivan last autumn.

Sullivan is due to be sentenced next month for assaulting Hagans, even though he insists it was the double killer who started the fight.

In a prison documentary made in 2008, Anto Hagans talked about the night he smashed a stolen car into pensioner Kathleen Rosbotham, saying: “It was a joyriding offence. Dangerous driving causing death.

“Where I came from it was like the norm. Nearly everybody I knew was in prison at one stage. Be it for six months or six years someone was in prison belonging to their families.”

cbarnes@sundaylife.co.uk

Online Editors

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