Northern Ireland

UVF supergrass case witness Robert Stewart 'unwell'

Court drawing of Robert Stewart giving evidence in front of Justice John Gillen
Image caption A court drawing of Robert Stewart, who was deemed too ill to give evidence on Tuesday

The supergrass trial in Belfast has been adjourned for the day because one of the key witnesses was deemed unfit to give evidence.

When Robert Stewart took the stand on Tuesday morning he said he felt unwell, had a severe headache and had not been sleeping.

Stewart has been testifying against 14 men, including alleged former UVF commander Mark Haddock.

After he was examined by a doctor, the judge decided to adjourn the hearing.

It will resume on Wednesday morning.

Stewart has already faced seven days of cross-examination from two defence lawyers.

Nine of the accused are charged with the murder of UDA man Tommy English.

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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