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Greysteel: Confessions of serial killer Torrens Knight

Recording reveals loyalist's life of drugs, crimes and sectarian murder.

By Stephen Gordon, Head of News

Published 27/04/2016

Defiant: Knight claims this infamous photo was all a stunt for the cameras after his arrest for the Greysteel massacre.
Defiant: Knight claims this infamous photo was all a stunt for the cameras after his arrest for the Greysteel massacre.
Massacre: A policeman surveys the scene in the Rising Sun Bar.

Notorious ‘trick or treat’ killer Torrens Knight has spoken frankly about his life of crime, drug abuse and sectarian murder.

The once defiant, gloating loyalist gunman says his life “spiralled out of control” when he joined the UFF and he knew the Greysteel massacre was wrong.

But the born-again Christian, 46, has also admitted that he relished being in the UDA/UFF, saying: “I was on a road to destruction but I liked it because it fuelled my anger.

“I looked upon the UDA as my family. It was sad in a way but that’s how I looked at the UDA.”

Co Londonderry man Knight - the most infamous of the Greysteel killers - has spoken candidly of his life as a terrorist in a 33 minute audio testimony made for a Christian group and broadcast online on the same site that published the testimony of Ballymena ‘glued lips’ killer Adrian Hayes.

>>Listen to Greysteel killer Torrens Knight tell of his life of crime, murder and drugs on the Set Free Prison Ministries site<<

Choking with emotion on occasions, Knight tells how he descended from being a poker machine addict who took cash from granny’s purse, to becoming a UDA robber and enforcer before joining a UFF murder squad.

Aged 24 he led the UFF gang that shouted “trick or treat” before raking the Rising Sun bar with machine gun fire in Halloween 1993.

A 19-year-old woman and an 81-year-old man were among the eight people mercilessly killed in the sectarian slaughter at the village pub on Saturday, October 30.

Following his arrest TV pictures of an unrepentant Knight screaming abuse and defiance outside Limavady courthouse were beamed around the world.

Born again: Torrens Knight claims to have found God.
Born again: Torrens Knight claims to have found God.

Bible-basher Knight now says that his snarling, hardman stance was all a front.

He planned to go on the run but says he knew in his heart the atrocity in the pub was wrong and allowed police to arrest him.

Speaking at a Gospel meeting, Knight began by telling fellow Christians of his early days, living with his God-fearing granny on a farm in Aghadowey when his parents’ marriage broke up.

Knight’s life began to go wrong when he became addicted to poker machines at a local pub.  He took cash from a purse where his granny kept money for church missions and his gran and furious dad told him to pack his bags.

He moved to Portstewart with a pal from a hardline loyalist background who had been told to leave his family home when he started going out with a Catholic girl.

 “I went to Portstewart to live. I started drinking and going out. I lost the influence and fear of my father.

“One thing led to another. I had anger issues. I would say I had a chip on my shoulder and I got involved in criminality.

“A few years later I got involved in an organisation. I started off just going round the doors selling magazines for the LPA (Loyalist Prisoners Association) and lifting money. I enjoyed it.

“Then I progressed. I moved up into the UDA, going round the doors wasn’t enough. I started doing robberies and beatings, things like that. But that still wasn’t enough. I wanted to go further.

“I progressed to the UFF, which was really the murder teams of the loyalist paramilitaries. My life just spiralled out of control.

“I joined the organisation to fight against the IRA who I saw as the enemy and it just progressed and progressed. It was a scary time.

“I got involved in shooting and ended up killing not only IRA men but also killing innocent people. That was a thing I never ever thought I would do. I never planned it.

Aftermath: RUC officers outside the Rising Sun bar where Torrens Knight murdered eight innocent people on Halloween night 1993.
Aftermath: RUC officers outside the Rising Sun bar where Torrens Knight murdered eight innocent people on Halloween night 1993.

“But that’s just sin. Once you go down the road of sin, it sucks you in, it can just take over.

“It was just like I was going down a road of destruction. And I liked it because it fuelled my anger,” said the man who was also jailed for the killings of four men in Castlerock in 1993.

He said he looked on the UDA as his family.

“I was part of something. I felt special. I had boys who would watch my back and I would do the same for them.”

Knight talks about “eyeing up” a Provo for assassination for a few days prior to the Greysteel murders but he now thanks God that the man did not turn up.

“Then the Shankill bomb happened and orders came down the line something big was going down, that we were to cancel what we were doing. And I was asked to take charge of the team that were going to carry this out.

“The place that was picked was the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel. I didn’t question it."

He said he would have done anything he was asked to do by UDA leaders at that point.

“At that time we were so, in a way brainwashed, that’s being truthful. We believed what we were doing was right.”

After the pub massacre Knight considered going on the run but instead effectively gave himself up.

“I had a gut feeling when the ‘job’ was carried out that something wasn’t right.

“I was actually ready to go on the run and go into hiding but there was something in here [he thumps on his heart a number of times] that didn’t sit right with me.

“I says ‘I’ll man up’ because I knew they [police] were looking for me. A pile of my mates had been lifted. I saw the police in Macosquin and I just stood and they took me and another chap away.”

Knight said he had been interrogated by CID at Castlereagh Holding Centre previously and regarded it just as a game which he enjoyed. He never thought the cops would ‘get under his skin’ but this time was different.

He added: “I tried to put on this hard exterior, I tried to justify it but deep down I knew it wasn’t right, these innocent people, it wasn't right.

“And I think that’s what helped break me too because I knew it wasn’t right.”

He talks about spending time in the Maze jail on remand after “wrecking the Crum (Crumlin Road Gaol)” and finding drugs in easy supply.

“It was a scary place. It was a mad place. It was full of mad men. I thank God he brought me through it all.”

Knight says he “dabbled” in drugs prior to going into the Maze but cannabis became a way of life in jail.

“Whenever we went into prison unfortunately drugs were readily available and that’s the way we put in our days in, smoking weed and getting stoned.”

The multiple killer, who was given 12 life sentences, said: “I suppose it [the drugs] were a way of us dealing with what we were going through because it was traumatic, our lives were just turned upside down. It was a form of escapism.”

In his testimony Knight, who is understood to work for a joinery firm on the North Coast, tells how he found God while serving time in prison.

He says his partner Carolyn also came to the Lord after seeing how he had changed. At times he chokes with emotion as he talks about his life and the role of God in his life. The killer admits that on occasions he has backslid, saying “he took the hand off the plough”.

After being given early release under the Good Friday Agreement terms he was later returned to jail for assaulting two women and disorderly behaviour in a Coleraine bar. But he says he now thanks God he was jailed for a second time.

Choking up, he says: “I had drifted away from God and that’s why I got into the mess that I did.  I was one of those men who the Bible talks about, a man who had taken his hand off the plough.

“Since then I cry a lot. God touched me in a special way. God has had to break me a few times but he hasn’t broke me to destroy, he has broke me to build me up again, to teach me.”

The audio of Torrens Knight’s full testimony was recently uploaded to the website of Set Free Prisons Bangor.

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