Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Serial killer Alan Oliver's mask slips as sectarian murderer goes to ground


Alan Oliver
Alan Oliver
Ciaran Barnes

By Ciaran Barnes

UVF serial killer Alan Oliver felt so confident about never being prosecuted that he carried out some killings without a mask and gloves.

The revelation has added to speculation that he was a protected agent - a belief held by the families of his victims and which he denies.

Among the 14 sectarian murders the 49-year-old is believed to have committed for Billy Wright's Mid-Ulster UVF gang are those of schoolboys Gavin McShane and Shane McArdle.

The 17-year-olds were shot in the head in May 1994 while playing an arcade game inside a taxi depot in Keady, Co Armagh. Their killer, who has been identified as Oliver, was not wearing a mask or gloves.

Witness Malachy Donnelly, who was injured in the attack, described the gunman, saying: "He was about 25 years old and around 6ft tall, slim build, with reddish brown hair and a long face, wearing jeans and a T-shirt."

A second witness, John McArdle, who heard the gunshots from a nearby shop, saw the UVF assassin as he fled.

Again, he describes him as "6ft tall, of slim build with sandy brown hair".

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At the time of the McShane and McArdle murders, Oliver was 24 years old. He has sandy hair, is around 6ft tall and of slim build. Loyalist sources in Mid-Ulster have since named the Portadown charity worker and born-again Christian as the teens' killer.

They claimed that these were the last of his 14 murders, and that 10 days earlier, he had shot dead pensioner Roseanne Mallon (76, bottom) in Dungannon.

The same UVF sources said they decided to speak out after Sunday Life revealed last week how Oliver had met with cold-case cops to discuss immunity if he admitted to his crimes.

Alan Oliver with BBC reporter Mandy McAuley
Alan Oliver with BBC reporter Mandy McAuley

Oliver has previously denied being a protected State agent in a conversation with this newspaper.

"Alan was so confident about not being convicted that he wasn't wearing a mask when he shot those two young fellas in Keady, he wasn't even wearing gloves," said the insider.

"Back then we thought he was just being ballsy, but now we're not so sure. That story in Sunday Life last week about him meeting with the Historical Enquiries Team has spooked a lot of loyalists in Mid-Ulster. We're wondering what he has told them."

There are other troubling aspects to the McShane and McArdle murders that cause their families deep concern.

There was a failure by police to compare fingerprint evidence taken from the door of the taxi depot to UVF suspects.

Clothes belonging to the teens were incinerated immediately after their autopsies were conducted. This meant that DNA evidence like hair follicles that may have transferred from the unmasked and T-shirt-wearing gunman to his victims was lost.

All the police interview notes from the UVF murder suspects, including Oliver, who were questioned at Gough Barracks in Armagh have also been destroyed. The authorities have said this is because they were among a large batch that became contaminated with asbestos. Twenty-five years on from her son Gavin McShane's murder, his mother Maria McShane is still pursuing Alan Oliver, even from her deathbed.

The 62-year-old justice campaigner, who has terminal cancer, is adamant the loyalist was the gunman who shot her innocent son and his friend Shane.

In a previous interview with Sunday Life, she said: "Alan Oliver has two sons of his own. I used to have two sons, but Gavin was murdered and now I have only one.

"I would ask Alan Oliver to search his conscience, and if he really has found Christianity then he should go to the police and tell them everything he knows about UVF murders in Mid-Ulster and what he was involved in."

Oliver has gone to ground since interest in his career as a ruthless UVF gunman was reawakened following the broadcast of BBC Spotlight's A Secret History of the Troubles.

Loyalists who live near the Elim Church in Portadown where he works, say he has not been seen since the show aired.

Adding to Oliver's problems is transcripts of his meeting with the Historical Enquires Team seen by this newspaper that detail his plea for immunity. In the transcripts he is not named and is only referred to as Suspect Two.

They reveal: "He (Suspect Two) 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."

Denying he is a protected State agent, Oliver previously told Sunday Life: "Under no circumstances am I working for the HET. I am working for nobody."

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