| 4.3°C Belfast

Man accused of UVF double murder bailed

The alleged gunman in the double loyalist murder of two Catholic workmen 20 years ago is to be released on bail, a High Court judge has ruled.

Prosecutors opposed James Smyth's application amid claims of an ongoing campaign of intimidation against the family of a key witness.

But Mr Justice Weir decided the 48-year-old should be released after being told a co-accused is no longer in custody.

Smyth, from Forthriver Link, Belfast, has been charged with the murders of Gary Convie and Eamon Fox in May 1994. He was detained by detectives investigating a campaign of murder and serious crime by the UVF.

Mr Convie (24) and Mr Fox (44) were gunned down as they sat eating lunch in a car at a North Queen Street building site.

A prosecution barrister said police believe they have evidence that Smyth was the gunman. Lawyers for Smyth previously claimed information had been supplied by loyalist supergrass Gary Haggarty, who is understood to be living at a secret location outside Northern Ireland.

"There's an ongoing campaign of intimidation against the family members of this significant witness," the barrister added. However, Mr Justice Weir held that Smyth should be granted bail on condition that his daughter lodges a £2,000 cash surety.

Smyth was curfewed, electronically tagged and must report to police four times a week. He was also banned from contacting prosecution witnesses or their family.

Belfast Telegraph