Northern Ireland

UVF charges over Trevor Gowdy attack dropped against four

Artist's impression of court room
Image caption Key evidence was to have come from Robert Stewart

Four men accused of UVF membership and other offences have been cleared after the prosecution decided not to continue with the case.

It is believed key prosecution evidence would have come from Robert Stewart.

He is one of two brothers who gave evidence in the supergrass trial which ended with 12 acquittals last week.

At Belfast Crown Court on Friday, the prosecution said they had reviewed the evidence after the supergrass trial and would not go ahead with the case.

The judge then found all four accused not guilty.

Robert Warnock, 63, William Young, 41, 33-year-old Raymond Burns and Ronald Bowe, 34, were all charged with membership of the UVF and of trying to intimidate Ballyclare pub doorman Trevor Gowdy from giving evidence between August and September 2003.

Image caption Ronald Bowe was one of those cleared of the charges

Mr Burns, from Ballyvessey Court, Newtownabbey, and Belfast men Mr Young, from Seapark Drive and Mr Bowe, from Grove Street East, had faced further charges relating to explosives.

They were accused of causing an explosion likely to endanger life on 12 September and perverting justice by causing an explosion at a property connected to Mr Gowdy in an effort to stop him from giving evidence.

Mr Bowe was further charged with having an improvised pipe bomb the day before the alleged attack while Mr Burns faced a further charge of being a member of the UVF on diverse dates between 27 February 1996 and 13 September 2003.

Mr Bowe was one of the accused in the supergrass trial who was cleared of all charges.

Three co-accused in that case either had the charges dropped or were acquitted of offences arising out of the Trevor Gowdy attack, while a fourth was initially charged with the attack, but never faced trial for it.

Speaking outside the court, the Progressive Unionist Party's Ken Wilkinson said it was "another chapter closed in a case which is a total and utter farce".

He added: "We are not against justice, we are totally and utterly opposed to the system that's been used.

"It was a failed system in 84, it's now 2012 and it's still a failed system."

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