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Alleged bomber’s trial is told of UVF death threats

Death threats allegedly sent on behalf of a loyalist terror group were revealed in the High Court yesterday.

Prosecutors set out the contents of a letter they claim was delivered earlier this year in a bid to intimidate a criminal trial witness.

Prosecuting counsel Fiona O'Kane said the note was sent in March to a close relative of a punishment attack victim.

She said it warned: “Last chance to get the f*** out or you are going to regret it. Your brother is a tout.”

The barrister claimed it further stated: “We don't give a f*** if your kid lives with you. You're dead. Last chance. UVF — you have 72 hours.”

Details were disclosed as part of wider opposition to a bail application mounted by an engineer accused of a loyalist paramilitary pipe-bomb attack seven years ago.

Raymond Burns (32), of Ballyvessey Court in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, faces charges linked to an alleged attempt to stop a doorman from testifying about a brutal assault he was subjected to.

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He is accused of membership of the Ulster Volunteer Force at the time, conspiracy to intimidate Trevor Gowdy, possessing explosives and causing an explosion.

The case against him relates to a pipe-bombing in September 2003 at the home of Mr Gowdy's then girlfriend in Larne, Co Antrim.

It was carried out as the doorman was due to testify about an attack on him outside a Newtownabbey social club the previous year. Former senior loyalist and alleged police agent Mark Haddock was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for the assault.

Four men have so far been charged in connection with the pipe-bombing as part of an ongoing probe into UVF crime in north Belfast.

Evidence was supplied by Robert Stewart, a one-time commander in the organisation who, with his brother David, turned so-called supergrass.

The application was adjourned to allow further legal submissions to be made.

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