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Sunday Life

Loyalist serial killer Oliver will admit to murders if he gets immunity

 

Alan Oliver
Alan Oliver
Roseanne Mallon, 76 years old, who was shot dead by Loyalists in Dungannon Co.Tyrone on 9-5-94.
Catriona Rennie one of three Catholics shot dead at a mobile shop in Craigavon in 1991
Laurence Maguire
Loyalist leader Billy Wright
UVF triple killer Thomas 'Tam' Harper
Ciaran Barnes

By Ciaran Barnes

A UVF serial killer says he would be willing to confess to his crimes if given immunity from prosecution.

Alan Oliver's startling admission is contained within transcripts of conversations he had with the PSNI's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) in 2011 that have been seen by Sunday Life.

The 49-year-old gunman met with cold-case detectives probing dozens of sectarian murders carried out by Billy Wright's UVF gang in Mid-Ulster during the 1990s.

In the classified papers Oliver - who previously told this newspaper that he was never a protected informant - is referred to as 'Suspect Two'.

They detail how the one-time violent loyalist-turned-Portadown charity worker sat down with the HET on August 22, 2011.

The transcripts reveal: "He (Oliver) acknowledged he had previously been involved in loyalist terrorism, but said that the structures currently in place for reconciliation were not suitable for him to speak openly about his specific involvement.

"He said that if in the future a structure was put in place whereby people could speak on behalf of organisations in a truth process without fear of personal recrimination, then he would be able to take part."

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Oliver, who has been linked to 14 unsolved UVF murders in Mid-Ulster, came to public attention again last week when he was named as a serial killer in the BBC's Spotlight On The Troubles: A Secret History.

He refused to talk to reporter Mandy McAuley when she approached him at his Elim Church in Portadown for the show, which said he "may be one of Northern Ireland's most prolific serial killers still alive today".

Back in 2014, when Sunday Life first exposed Oliver, he was slightly more talkative when quizzed about claims he was protected from prosecution over his role in a dozen killings.

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Roseanne Mallon, 76 years old, who was shot dead by Loyalists in Dungannon Co.Tyrone on 9-5-94.

We asked him was he a State agent who was then working with the HET, to which he replied: "Under no circumstances am I working for the HET. I am working for nobody."

However, documents seen by this newspaper show that he was definitely in contact with cold-case cops to discuss UVF murders.

Oliver told them that he "deeply regretted the Troubles and the loss of every single life incurred".

The HET transcripts state: "He (Oliver) no longer considered himself a Protestant, loyalist or unionist. He stated he no longer believed in sectarianism and fundamentally disagreed with the prejudices that entailed.

"He deeply regretted the Troubles and the loss of every single life that was incurred: none of it should have happened.

"He believed those involved in terrorism on both sides had been used by those who orchestrated the paramilitary campaigns."

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Catriona Rennie one of three Catholics shot dead at a mobile shop in Craigavon in 1991

Sunday Life understands the HET also met self-confessed UVF killer Laurence Maguire at a location outside Northern Ireland around the same period.

Again this was to discuss his role in the gang's Mid-Ulster murder campaign, but he refused to help with their inquiries.

The loyalist, who was the first person to be convicted of directing terrorism in Northern Ireland and was jailed for five murders, also featured in last Tuesday's BBC Spotlight programme. It was Maguire who accused Oliver of being involved in 10 to 15 murders, a description that has led to him being branded a serial killer.

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Laurence Maguire

The 14 murders dad-of-two Oliver has been linked to are:

÷ That of pensioner Roseanne Mallon near Dungannon in 1994; ÷ The Craigavon mobile shop murders of teenagers Catriona Rennie, Eileen Duffy and plumber Brian Frizzell in 1991; ÷ The killings of Moy butchers Jack and Kevin McKearney, and of pensioners Charlie and Tess Fox, all in 1992; ÷ The murders of Bleary brothers Gerard and Rory Cairns, and Armagh schoolboys Gavin McShane and Shane McArdle in the same period;

÷ The execution of Charles and Theresa Fox at the Moy, Dungannon in 1992.

Suspicions about Alan Oliver's status as a protected agent centre on how he was never prosecuted for any of these crimes despite being the subject of repeat arrests.

He was also named as one of the Craigavon mobile shop gunmen by UVF member Thomas 'Tam' Harper (55), who was convicted in 1995 of carrying out the triple killing.

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Loyalist leader Billy Wright

His police confessions reveal: "Alan got out of the van. He had the mask down over his face, so had I. He went into the van and I heard the shooting."

Harper says that Oliver later radioed other members of the UVF gang to say "tatty bread" - a rhyming slang term for "dead".

Despite these statements implicating Oliver, he was never charged in connection with the mobile shop slaughter.

At a preliminary inquest five years ago into the murders of Charlie and Theresa Fox - who the loyalist is believed to have shot dead - the family's barrister Eugene McKenna said it appeared a suspect had been granted "some immunity from prosecution".

He told the hearing: "We would be asking the PSNI to disclose any intelligence in relation to the individual as to whether he should be compelled to give evidence."

Questions have also been asked about how Oliver has been able to spend so much time in the United States despite having a rioting conviction and being listed as a terrorist on police files.

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UVF triple killer Thomas 'Tam' Harper

He was even able to get a visa to fly there to study the Bible after making an online religious testimony in which he admitted to being "involved in organised crime and political violence" for 10 years.

With pressure mounting, Oliver is known to have visited several loyalists who were leading figures in Mid-Ulster during the 1990s to deny working for police.

These include Tony 'The Dog' McNeill who was also named by Thomas Harper as being involved in the Craigavon mobile shop murders, but never charged.

A decade ago, McNeill had bank accounts seized by the Assets Recovery Agency which accused him of laundering £650,000 and having links to loyalist paramilitaries in Portadown.

cbarnes@sundaylife.co.uk

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