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Boxer ‘volunteered to shoot UDA boss’

A former boxer was among an elite group of loyalists who directed the assassination of rival paramilitary chief Tommy English, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors claimed Ronald Bowe (32) volunteered to be one of the gunmen who broke into the UDA leader's home and shot him dead.

It was also alleged that the victim's family were warned they would have to “watch their backs” if he was arrested over the killing in October 2000.

Details emerged as Bowe, of Mount Vernon Road, north Belfast, was refused bail amid fears of possible interference with a major reinvestigation said to be nearing completion.

He is one of 11 men accused in connection with the shooting of English (40) at his home on the Ballyduff estate, Newtownabbey. The UDA commander was gunned down during a violent feud with the UVF which claimed four lives in five days.

Bowe was charged with his murder following a new probe by the Historical Enquires Team, a specialist police unit set up to examine unsolved terrorist murders in Northern Ireland. He denies the offence.

The case is based around evidence supplied by Newtownabbey brothers David and Robert Stewart, who are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting in the shooting.

A Crown barrister claimed there was a distinction between the various suspects' roles, but that Bowe was among the “group one” prime movers who were pivotal in planning the killing at a meeting in a flat on the New Mossley estate allegedly overseen by co-accused Mark Haddock.

She alleged they could be identified by their significant input, level of authority over others and parts played in the plot.

“He is put in this group one because he was in the elite group of persons at the meeting who had a private briefing away from the others in the flat,” she told the court.

“He directed or assisted in direction of the others in the murder plan, including allocating roles.

“He provided and distributed materials for use in the murder attack, he volunteered to undertake a prominent role in the murder, namely he volunteered himself to be one of the gunmen, and he was entrusted in that position by Mr Haddock.”

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