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UVF victims featured in the supergrass trial could get multi-million pound compensation pay-out

Gary Haggarty has confessed to injuring and targeting dozens more during a 16-year terror campaign between 1991 and 2007.

By Ciaran Barnes

Published 15/11/2016

Gary Haggarty
Gary Haggarty

UVF victims whose cases feature in the supergrass trial could be in line for a multi-million pound compensation pay-out if there is evidence authorities knew about proposed killings but did not warn them.

Documents seen by Sunday Life show that as well as admitting to involvement in five murders, 44-year-old Gary Haggarty has confessed to injuring and targeting dozens more during a 16-year terror campaign between 1991 and 2007.

In many cases Haggarty’s handlers had prior knowledge of the attacks but failed to warn the victims that their lives were in danger, according to the Police Ombudsman’s Operation Ballast into the activities of the UVF and agent handlers.

His confessions include the UVF murders of Sean McParland, Eamon Fox, Gary Convie, Sean McDermott and John Harbinson.

Haggarty has also admitted plotting to kill north Belfast republicans Eddie Copeland, Paul DiLucia, Mickey Donnelly and Leo Morgan, as well as  former SDLP councillor turned political commentator Brian Feeney, and Catholic taxi driver John Flynn.

Last year in the High Court the PSNI admitted a claim of wrongdoing in public office over the handling of a loyalist paramilitary agent (Haggarty) in the Flynn case. Counsel for the Chief Constable also accepted that he was entitled to damages.

The vast majority of those Haggarty targeted were Protestants from north Belfast and Newtownabbey, and in many cases the victims were loyalists.

Among those Haggarty has confessed to carrying out punishment attacks on are convicted killers Fred McClenaghan and Nigel Brown.

Magherafelt man McClenaghan, 54, is currently serving life for the 2011 shotgun murder of his ex-girlfriend Marion Millican in Portstewart.

Haggarty has told police that he was part of a UVF unit which kidnapped and beat the 54-year-old in 1994.

Another of his targets was Nigel Brown, who is serving life for the 2005 sectarian stabbing of schoolboy Thomas Devlin in north Belfast.

He was subjected to a punishment attack by Haggarty and his Mount Vernon UVF cronies in the late 1990s.

Other loyalists attacked by the gang include William ‘Billy Buttons’ Montgomery, Stevie Benson and Willie Glendenning from Rathcoole, Billy Volkes from the Shore Road, and Davy ‘Whitecap’ Millar from Mount Vernon.

Convicted paedophile Cyril Warnock — the brother of deceased UVF boss Rab Warnock — was also beaten up by Haggarty. So too was now dead UVF killer Mark ‘Gutsy’ Campbell, and loyalists Jason ‘Ghost’ Gordon, Matty Dawson, Thomas ‘Harpo’ Flannigan and Rab McCracken.

UDA man Tommy English, who was murdered by the UVF in 2000, was attacked by Haggarty and his gang at a north Belfast petrol station in 1997.

The supergrass admits taking part in the assault and later ordering staff to destroy CCTV footage of the incident.

Newtownabbey brothers Tommy and Michael Cousins were targeted by Haggarty simply because he hated their hard men reputation.

Andy Best from Tigers Bay was another victim, as was Billy Bushell and Willie Beckett from Rathcoole, and John ‘Fat’ Nicholl.

Other loyalists who were singled out for attack by Haggarty were UVF informant Terry Fairfield, Mount Vernon men William Logue and Archie Galway, and convicted drug dealer Laurence ‘Duffer’ Kincaid.

Many of these individuals may now  be in line for substantial compensation payouts that could end up costing the government millions of pounds.

That is because as a paid informant from 1993 to 2010 Haggarty was duty bound to tell his handlers about any planned UVF attacks.

The victims should have then been warned by police that their lives were in danger, but in many cases they were not.

Justice campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the UVF, only found out last week that Haggarty has confessed to planning a 1999 bomb attack on his home.

“The UVF has tried to kill me several times, but on this occasion I received no prior warning. The first I knew about it was when I spoke to my solicitor last week,” said Raymond. “I believe that  authorities were prepared to let the attack take place because I was exposing its relationship with the UVF.”

Political commentator Brian Feeney, who was targeted by Haggarty between 1993 and 1995, says he first learned of the threat against him when he received a letter from police in 2015.

The former SDLP politician, who survived two other loyalist murder bids, said: “Of course my life was put in danger by not warning me that I was being targeted by Gary Haggarty and the UVF. I can only assume the failure to so was to protect informants in the gang.”

Not only has Haggarty confessed to a series of murders, attempted murders and assaults, he has also revealed how the UVF was up to its neck in drug dealing and racketeering.

Sensitive papers seen by Sunday Life show the supergrass admitting to extorting thousands of pounds from small businesses in north Belfast and south-east Antrim. Those paying weekly cash sums to the UVF were pubs in the centre of Belfast, Newtownabbey, Larne and Carrickfergus. Haggarty has further admitted taking protection money from Chinese takeaways in these areas, and burning down a petrol station after it stopped giving him free fuel. Statements the supergrass has given to police also reveal how the UVF was heavily involved in drugs.

He admits to taking possession of five kilos of cannabis in July 1997, and to selling speed and magic mushrooms.

Haggarty has also acknowledged giving beatings to drug dealers for refusing to pay the UVF protection cash.

After agreeing to turn supergrass in 2010 he provided detectives with a document entitled “the finance files of Carrickfergus UVF”. He admitted that during the period between 2004 and 2007, while leader of the south-east Antrim UVF, he had 

£130,000 of terrorist funds.

Other scams the double agent has accused the UVF of involvement in is the manufacture and sale of fake driving licences, supplying counterfeit cheques, chipping digital TV boxes and mobile phones.

He also revealed how young men who got in trouble with the UVF were given the option of joining the terror gang instead of being shot in the legs.

cbarnes@sundaylife.co.uk

Online Editors

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