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Breaking: Loyalist supergrass Haggarty pleads guilty to 200 terrorist offences

Gary Haggarty
Gary Haggarty
Gary Haggarty
Gary Haggarty

A former loyalist paramilitary commander turned supergrass has pleaded guilty to 200 terrorist offences, including five murders.

Gary Haggarty, the ex-chief of the Ulster Volunteer Force's notorious north Belfast unit, admitted the litany of crimes as part of his deal with the State to give evidence against fellow terrorists.

As well as the five murders, the 45-year-old, who is currently in protective custody, admitted five attempted murders, including against police officers; 23 counts of conspiracy to murder; directing terrorism; and membership of a proscribed organisation, when he appeared before a judge at Belfast Crown Court.

Haggarty, who worked as a police informant during the Troubles, was interviewed more than 1,000 times by detectives in one of the biggest and most complex cases ever undertaken in Northern Ireland.

The catalogue of offences stretch over a 16-year period from 1991 to 2007 and include the loyalist murders of John Harbinson, Sean McParland, Gary Convie, Eamon Fox and Sean McDermott.

The lengthy charge sheet also includes aiding and abetting murder, kidnap, possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives as well as hijacking, false imprisonment, arson, intimidation and conspiracy to riot.

Haggarty is expected to receive a heavily reduced sentence in exchange for his cooperation with the authorities.

He could well walk free, given he has already served three years in custody - the equivalent of a six year sentence.

Sentence is expected to be passed later in the year.

In the interim prosecutors will decide how to proceed with the evidence he has provided.

It is understood Haggarty has made allegations against 14 fellow loyalists, for crimes including four murders.

He has also given evidence in relation to alleged criminality by two former Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch handlers who worked with him when he was an informer.

The content of his interviews amounts to 23,000 pages of transcribed evidence.

There was a significant police presence in and around the court for the high-profile arraignment hearing.

Haggarty, who is believed to be living at a secret location outside Northern Ireland, was escorted into court through a side door by two specialist police officers.

He was initially arrested in 2009 and charged with the murder of Mr Harbinson.

He then indicated his willingness to turn state's witness and subsequently signed an agreement to become an assisting offender under the terms of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (Socpa).

The terror boss, whose address was formally recorded on the indictment sheet as care of a Belfast police station, stood in the dock dressed in a grey suit during the hearing before judge Mr Justice Treacy.

He said 'guilty' as each charge was put to him, the majority in short form summary.

Relatives of some of his victims watched on from the public gallery of the court.

Detective Superintendent Richard Campbell, from PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch, said: “The Police Service has been investigating a series of murders and other serious crimes by the UVF in north Belfast since 2010, following investigations and reports by the Police Ombudsman and the Historical Enquiries Team.

“Today’s court proceedings are a milestone for the victims, their families and also for the police investigation.

“Gary Haggarty has pleaded guilty to a total of 200 serious offences, including five murders, one aiding and abetting murder, five attempted murders, 23 counts of conspiracy to murder, a number of offences under the Terrorism Act including directing terrorism and being a member of a proscribed organisation, namely the UVF, four kidnaps, hi-jackings, false imprisonment, possession of firearms and ammunition, and possession of, and making, explosives.

“Our thoughts today are first and foremost with the victims and their families especially those murdered by Gary Haggarty; namely Sean McParland who was shot in front of his young grandchildren in February 1994 and died as a result 8 days later; Eamon Fox and Gary Convie who were shot dead as they ate their lunch in their car in May 1994, Sean McDermott who was shot dead in August 1994 and John Harbinson who was attacked on May 18, 1997. Gary Haggarty has also pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the murder of Peter McTasney, who was shot dead in his home in front of his 3 year old daughter in February 1991.

“It has been a very long, arduous and painful process for these families and I hope today’s proceedings have made a significant contribution to the process of ultimately bringing closure to all the families of the victims of Mount Vernon UVF during that time.

“The PSNI remains committed to moving forward and working with the PPS in relation to the next stages of the investigation into Mount Vernon UVF and others who were involved with committing these offences.

“My detectives have worked hard over the last 7 years to bring justice. I understand the frustrations of the families over the length of time this has taken but I have always said that it was important to take the time to get it right.”


Gary Haggarty is charged as follows:

Five counts of murder contrary to Common Law

Five counts of attempted murder contrary to Article 3(1) of the Criminal Attempts and 

Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 and Common Law.

One count of aiding and abetting murder contrary to Common Law

Twenty three counts of conspiracy to murder contrary to Article 9(1) of the Criminal 
Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 and Common Law

Four counts of Kidnap contrary to Common Law

Six counts of False Imprisonment contrary to Common Law

Five counts of Hijack contrary to section 2(1)(a) of the Criminal Jurisdiction Act 1975

Forty seven counts of Possession of firearms and ammunition with intent contrary to 
Article 17 of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 1981

Nineteen counts of possession of firearms and ammunition with intent contrary to Article 
58(1) of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004

One count of carrying an imitation firearm with criminal intent contrary to Article 19(1) 
of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 1981
One count of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence 
contrary to Article 17A of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 1981

One count of conspiracy to possess firearms with intent contrary to Article 9(1) of the 
Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 and Article 17 of the 
Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 1981

Two counts of conspiracy to possess firearms with intent contrary to Article 9(1) of the 
Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 and Article 58(1) of the 
Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004

Nine counts of possession of explosives with intent contrary to section 3(1)(b) of the 
Explosive Substances Act 1883

One count of possession of explosives under suspicious circumstances contrary to section 
4(1) of the Explosive Substances Act 1883

One count of making explosives contrary to section 3(1)(b) of the Explosive Substances 
Act 1883

Five counts of membership of a proscribed organisation, namely, the UVF, as specified at 
count numbers 6-10

Four counts of directing terrorism as specified at counts 11-14

Seven counts of possession of articles for use in terrorism as specified at counts 44, 155, 
160, 191, 198, 202 and 208

Three counts of use of terrorist property contrary to section 16(1) of the 
Terrorism Act 2000

Seven counts of possession of terrorist property contrary to section 16(2) of the 
Terrorism Act 2000

Four counts of possession of information likely to be of use to terrorists as specified at 
counts 104, 143, 189 and 212

Two counts of aggravated burglary contrary to section 10(1) of the Theft Act (Northern 
Ireland) 1969

Eighteen counts of wounding with intent contrary to section 18 of the Offences Against 
the Person Act 1861

Three counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent contrary to section 18 
of the Offences Against the Person Act

Two counts of conspiracy to wound with intent contrary to Article 9(1) of the Criminal 
Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 and section 18 of the Offences 
Against the Person Act 1861

One count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm contrary to section 47 of the 
Offences Against the Person Act 1861

One count of common assault contrary to Common Law and section 47 of the Offences 
Against the Person Act 1861

Three counts of arson with intent contrary to Article 3(1) and (3) of the Criminal Damage 
(Northern Ireland) Order 1977

One count of criminal damage contrary to Article 3(1) of the Criminal Damage (Northern 
Ireland) Order 1977

One count of conspiracy to rob contrary to section 8(1) of the Theft Act (Northern 
Ireland) 1969 and Article 9(1) of the Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern 
Ireland) Order 1981

One count of possession of an offensive weapon contrary to Article 22(1) of the Public 
Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987

Two counts of conspiracy to defraud contrary to Common Law

One count of converting criminal property contrary to Article 47(1)(b) of the Proceeds of 
Crime (Northern Ireland) Order 1996.

One count of Assisting Offenders contrary to section 4(1) of the Criminal Law Act 
(Northern Ireland) 1967

One count of intimidation contrary to section 1(d) of the Protection of Person and 
Property Act (Northern Ireland) 1969

One count of conspiracy to riot contrary to Article 9 of the Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 and Common Law