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Double-killer’s Christmas gift: Loyalist murderer among more than 30 lifers released from prison for festive break

By Christopher Woodhouse

Published 28/12/2015

'Rab' Molyneaux leaves Maghaberry Prison for Christmas
'Rab' Molyneaux leaves Maghaberry Prison for Christmas

A loyalist double killer was among scores of prisoners who were freed from jail over the Christmas period.

UDA murderer Robert “Rab” Molyneaux was one of 108 inmates, including 31 lifers, granted Christmas home leave by the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

Molyneaux was given two life sentences in 1988 for the murders of Catholic men James Meighan, 22, and Eddie Campbell, 40, who were killed separately in 1987.

He was freed under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 but has been slung back in jail twice since then, most recently last year over alleged paramilitary activity.

Last night Mr Meighan’s sister branded the murderer’s festive freedom “terrible” saying she had not been told that her brother’s killer would be temporarily released.

“It’s terrible, we didn’t even know he was getting out,” said Michelle Meighan. “He (Molyneaux) knows how we feel, the system is a joke.

“They don’t bother with families, we are treated as second-class citizens to these killers.”

In July 1987, Molyneaux was part of a UFF/UDA gang that abducted and murdered Catholic taxi driver Edward Campbell.

Mr Campbell was shot dead and his body dumped at a disused quarry on the outskirts of north Belfast.

Molyneaux was also a member of the gang that shot dead James Pius Meighan in north Belfast in September 1987.

Mr Meighan, from the New Lodge area, was sitting with his fiancée in a car in the Ballysillan area when a man approached the vehicle and shot him twice in the head.

Molyneaux was one of five men jailed in 1988 over the killing of Mr Meighan. He was given a second life sentence after admitting his role in the killing of Mr Campbell.

The trial judges said both men were killed for no other reason than their religion.

In a prison interview with Sunday Life earlier this year Molyneaux, 49, said the murders still haunt him and blamed the late Rev Ian Paisley’s “hate-filled” rhetoric for driving him to kill.

“I am sure hearing this would make their families feel sick, and I don’t want to insult their intelligence, but if it helped bring closure to them by speaking to me I would do it.

“I would sit down with them privately and say sorry,” he said.

“It was Paisley’s rhetoric that got loyalists on the streets and then he wanted nothing more to do with it.”

He added: “I was a sectarian bigot. I believed that what I was doing was something I had to do.”

In total 108 prisoners have been granted temporary freedom this year under schemes for those serving set sentences and those given life terms.

Of those, 51 were released from Magilligan prison in Co Londonderry with 44 walking out of Magahberry jail near Lisburn.

Among them were 31 prisoners who are serving life sentences but who are within three years of their tariff, the minimum jail term they have to serve.

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