Northern Ireland

UVF supergrass case: Robert Stewart admits beating error

Court drawing of Robert Stewart giving evidence in front of Justice John Gillen
Image caption A court drawing of Robert Stewart giving evidence in front of Justice John Gillen

A witness at Belfast's supergrass trial has admitted mistakenly putting one of the accused at the scene of a beating when he was actually in prison.

Robert Stewart made the error in regards to 44-year-old John Bond.

Stewart is testifying against 14 men, including alleged former UVF commander Mark Haddock. Nine are accused of murdering UDA man Tommy English.

Counsel for Mark Haddock, Frank O'Donoghue has completed his cross examination of witness.

He began questioning him more than a week ago.

Mr O'Donoghue told the witness: "Your evidence is replete with irreconcilable contradictions and downright lies."

Stewart rejected the claims.

Earlier, the lawyer questioned Stewart about UVF punishment beatings.

The witness admitted that he did not always have a clear memory of exactly what happened.

Halloween murder

Mr English was shot dead in front of his wife at his home in the Ballyduff estate in Newtownabbey on Halloween night in 2000, during a feud between the UDA and the UVF.

Both the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) and UDA (Ulster Defence Association) are loyalist paramilitary groups responsible for the murder of hundreds of people during the Troubles.

The trial is the biggest and most expensive to be held in Northern Ireland for many years.

The 14 defendants are being represented by 24 barristers and eight firms of solicitors and the trial is expected to last for 11 weeks.

The term supergrass was first used in Northern Ireland in the 1980s when a number of terrorist suspects were convicted on the evidence of former comrades.

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