Northern Ireland

Gary Haggarty 'gave police advance details of murders'

Gary Haggarty Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Gary Haggarty admitted 202 offences, including five murders

A self-confessed UVF killer and police informer gave his Special Branch handlers advance information about a number of murders, a court has heard.

Gary Haggarty, the most senior loyalist ever to become a so-called supergrass, was a paid police agent for 11 years.

Belfast Crown Court heard he provided police with detailed information before and after a wide range of UVF incidents, including murders.

A prosecution lawyer described Haggarty as an enthusiastic terrorist.

'Wrecked havoc'

He said the former Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) commander directed "cold, calculated and remorseless acts of violence."

He added that Haggarty had engaged in a litany of criminality over a period of 16 years.

"Just a few minutes of engagement by Gary Haggarty in the lives of his victims wrecked havoc for their families for many years afterwards and that will continue for decades," the lawyer told the court.

But a lawyer for Gary Haggarty argued that he should be given a significant reduction in his sentence for the 202 crimes he has admitted, which included five murders.

He said he was not trying to understate the hurt caused by his client's "catalogue of atrocious offences".

'Exceptional level of information'

However, he told the court the level of information Haggarty had provided the police during his time as an informer and since becoming a supergrass was "exceptional".

"By providing that information he placed himself at huge personal risk, and he will be subject to that risk for the rest of his life," he added.

He said Haggarty had provided his Special Branch handlers with "pre-emptive" intelligence about a huge range of UVF plans.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Taxi driver Gerard Brady was shot dead in Antrim in June 1994

These included the murder of Gerard Brady, a Catholic taxi driver shot dead in Antrim in June 1994.

The lawyer said Haggarty had informed his handlers in advance that the UVF planned to kill a Catholic taxi driver in Antrim that night.

He also told them who was to be involved.

The lawyer said that when Haggarty met his handlers shortly after Mr Brady was killed, he asked why they had not prevented the attack.

"They told him the police had followed the suspects but lost them," he said.

'Clear and consistent'

The lawyer said Haggarty had also told police in advance about a UVF plot to kill Raymond McCord Jnr.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Raymond McCord jnr was beaten to death and dumped in a quarry

Mr McCord was beaten to death by the UVF in north Belfast in 1997. His body was dumped in a quarry.

Arguing that Haggarty should be given the maximum sentence discount possible, he told the court that in its assessment of the assistance he had provided, the Public Prosecution Service said "the level of detail in his accounts is remarkable".

The PPS also added that "on the whole his accounts have been clear and consistent".

The judge, Mr Justice Colton, will impose sentence early next year.

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