Belfast Telegraph

Supergrass move in McCord inquest

Evidence provided by a loyalist supergrass could see a breakthrough in the police hunt for the UVF killers of a former RAF member, a court has heard.

Coroner John Leckey has adjourned inquest proceedings into the 1997 death of 22-year-old Raymond McCord Jnr in north Belfast to see if testimony provided by the so-called "assisting offender" will prompt charges.

At a preliminary hearing in Belfast, a police lawyer confirmed that the process of interviewing the offender was near to completion.

It is understood he is providing state's evidence on a range of crimes committed by the notorious UVF gang from north Belfast's Mount Vernon estate that beat Mr McCord to death and dumped his body in a Newtownabbey quarry.

A lawyer for the McCords said this could prompt police action in regard to the murder.

On the back of a complaint by the victim's father, Raymond McCord Snr, who has led a high-profile campaign for justice, an investigation by former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, published in 2007, revealed large-scale collusion between the gang and the police, which ran agents inside the UVF.

The PSNI's Operation Stafford is currently probing crimes committed by the gang.

Earlier this year nine men, including alleged gang leader Mark Haddock, were cleared of murdering UDA chief Tommy English after a lengthy trial which saw evidence provided by two other supergrasses heavily criticised by the judge.

At this latest hearing, lawyers for Mr McCord's parents, who were present in court, told Mr Leckey that they wanted to see the police investigation completed before an inquest was heard.

Paddy Murray, representing Mr McCord's mother Vivienne, said: "That process could raise very serious issues. There may well be arising from that a criminal process in the future. We understand that investigation is fairly progressed."


From Belfast Telegraph