Belfast Telegraph

Victims campaigner accuses police of not warning him he was a loyalist's target

A victims campaigner has accused police of failing to warn him of a threat against him from a top loyalist paramilitary.

Belfast man Raymond McCord discovered on Monday that in 1999 he had been a target of former UVF boss turned supergrass, Gary Haggarty.

Haggarty is currently in protective custody awaiting sentence for 200 terrorist offences, including five murders. He has also acknowledged responsibility for 304 other more minor offences.

Mr McCord, whose son Raymond McCord junior was murdered by the UVF in November 1997, found out on Monday that one of the offences before the court is a planned attack against him 18 years ago.

He said he was furious that police never warned him about the threat.

He only discovered it when he received a letter from the Public Prosecution Service inviting him to make a personal victim statement to be taken into consideration by the judge at Haggarty's tariff hearing.

The correspondence informed Mr McCord that between February and April 1999 Haggarty had conspired with others to destroy his house.

He was told that he was entitled to make a Victim Personal Statement (VPS).

"It is a way for you to set out in writing the real impact the crime has had on you," the correspondence continued.

Mr McCord has now demanded to know why police never informed him about the threat.

"I am furious. It is disgusting to think that police knew about this threat against me by a serial killer - and that is what he is - but yet never bothered to warn me.

"I am convinced Haggarty was intending to burn down or bomb my house," said Mr McCord.

He added: "How many times was I not informed about threats against me? It really makes you question the justice system."

Haggarty pleaded guilty earlier this year to 200 terrorist offences, including five murders.

The pleas marked a significant stage of the long-time police informer's agreement to give state's evidence against fellow terrorists.

As well as the five murders, the 45-year-old admitted five attempted murders, including against police officers; 23 counts of conspiracy to murder; directing terrorism; and membership of a proscribed organisation.

He also admitted assisting offenders involved in a murder bid on fellow UVF terror chief and police informer Mark Haddock.

On top of the 200 guilty pleas, Haggarty acknowledged responsibility for 304 other more minor offences.

Those were not listed as formal charges on the bill of indictment but will be taken into account by the judge when he is sentenced.

Haggarty was interviewed more than 1,000 times by detectives in one of the biggest and most complex cases ever undertaken in Northern Ireland.

The catalogue of offences stretch over a 16-year period from 1991 to 2007 and include the loyalist murders of John Harbinson, Sean McParland, Gary Convie, Eamon Fox and Sean McDermott.

Haggarty is expected to receive a heavily-reduced sentence in exchange for his co-operation with the authorities.

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