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Fighting back Plucky pensioner ready to confront UVF killer who murdered husband

Olive is determined to confront former UVF man Garfield Beattie – a triple murderer who is due to answer charges of intimidating and threatening her politician daughter Denise.

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Denise and Olive

Denise and Olive

Olive Mullen

Olive Mullen

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Denise and Olive

A plucky pensioner will look a three-time loyalist killer in the face tomorrow – nearly 50 years after he murdered her husband and almost killed her, the Sunday World can reveal.

Olive Mullen – from the picturesque Moy village in Co Tyrone – will courageously lead a protest outside Dungannon Court in the morning.

Olive is determined to confront former UVF man Garfield Beattie – a triple murderer who is due to answer charges of intimidating and threatening her politician daughter Denise.

Five decades ago, 18-year-old Gerald Garfield Beattie was part of a UVF hit team which gunned down Denise Mullen’s father Denis and he very nearly killed her mother Olive as well.

Denis Mullen died when he went to investigate a sudden noise outside the family home at Collegelands near the Moy.

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Denis Mullen

Denis Mullen

Denis Mullen

A married father of two small children who worked as a senior ambulance controller, Dinny – as he was known – was standing on his doorstep when he was struck by 17 bullets.

After witnessing her husband fall to the ground, 33-year-old Olive raced back inside the cottage home to protect their two toddler children.

And as she did so, Beattie – a serving soldier in the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve and a marksman with a rifle – fired another burst of machine-gun fire in her direction.

“I felt the wind of the bullets zip past my head,” she told the Sunday World this week.

When he died on September 1 1975, Dinny was one of nine people to lose their lives at the hands of terrorists in a 48-hour orgy of violence.

But tomorrow, 79-year-old Olive plans to look her husband’s killer in the eye when he attends Dungannon Court to answer charges of threats and intimidation of her daughter Denise.

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Olive Mullen

Olive Mullen

Olive Mullen

“I’ll have no problem looking at Garfield Beattie, but I’d say he’ll have some difficulty looking at me,” she said.

And the determined pensioner has even designed her very own placard for the occasion.

It recalls the close links between Beattie’s UVF terror group and members of the RUC, the MoD and MI5 in mid-Ulster during the Troubles.

It reads: ‘RUC – UVF – MoD – MI5 murdered my husband Denis Mullen – and your 13 shots attempted murder of me’.

This week in an interview with the Sunday World Olive recalled the death and destruction visited on her family by Beattie and his friends in the mid-Ulster UVF.

And Mrs Mullen also revealed how she was approached by Garfield Beattie’s mother Mary Theresa at an inquest held into the murder of her husband Dinny.

She said: “I didn’t really know Garfield Beattie’s mother. I just remember when I was a child, a local Catholic woman had married a Protestant and at that time it was unusual. It was Garfield Beattie’s mother.”

“Mrs Beattie came over to me after the inquest and she told me who she was. She asked me if I’d consider visiting her son Garfield in prison.

“I asked. ‘Why would I do that?’

“Mrs Beattie said: ‘Well, you would realise, he’s not a bad lad.’

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Garfield Beattie

Garfield Beattie

Garfield Beattie

Olive Mullen turned down the request to visit her husband’s killer in prison.

But she recalled in detail how she and her family became targets for a vicious UVF gang operating in mid-Ulster during the Troubles.

“In the early 1970s we lived in the Moy and I was active in the civil rights and later the SDLP. And I encouraged by husband Dinny – who was from Dublin – to become involved as well.

“Garfield Beattie’s boss in the UVF was a man called William Corrigan. He lived near us in the Moy. I knew he was a senior UVF man and I had also noticed him watching our house.”

A plumber by trade and a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, William Corrigan was one of the most senior UVF men in mid-Ulster.

“Once I even saw Billy Corrigan enter our garden and I went outside to confront him, but he hurried away. We eventually moved out to a cottage at Collegeland, where my husband’s mother came from and we felt safer.”

During an election though, Olive requested the removal of a deceased member of Corrigan family from the electoral register. And it is thought this action may have resulted in her family being targeted for assassination.

Olive also recalled a bizarre incident just days before her husband’s murder when UVF leader Billy Corrigan entered their home dressed as a nun.

She said: “I was down clearing out the fire when I noticed a pair of boots belonging to someone standing next to me. It was dark, but I saw a man dressed as a nun.

“This person didn’t speak and he even tried to hide his face, but I realised right away, it was Billy Corrigan.

“I didn’t show any sign of recognition. I just lifted a £10 note from the mantelpiece and handed it over saying: ‘Take that sister’.

“He took the money and left immediately. I watched as he left and after he was a safe distance away from the house, he began to run. It was definitely Billy Corrigan,” said Olive.

She added: “It was only later I realised this had been a scouting operation to allow Corrigan to see inside our house.”

But nothing could have prepared Olive for what happened next.

“A few days later, Dinny came home late. He had been at an SDLP meeting. The children were in bed. I had made a bit of supper for him, but he hadn’t even started it when we heard the sound of a boulder coming through one of the windows.

“Dinny opened the door to see what it was and he was caught in a burst of gunfire. He fell backwards on the step. I ran into the kitchen and I could feel the bullets swishing past me, the shooting went on for a while and the shots were bouncing off the ceiling.

“I managed to get out of the window and I ran up the field for help,” said Olive.

When the emergency services arrived at the Mullen home, they found four-year-old Denise wearing a blood-splattered nightie and trying to revive her dead father who was still lying on the step where he had been shot.

SDLP politician Seamus Mallon declined the assistance of an RUC officer and, aided by Olive’s brother-in-law, carried his friend’s dead body to a waiting ambulance.

In July the following year, Garfield Beattie was arrested in connection with the murder of 50-year-old Patrick McNeice outside his home near Loughgall.

For three days he refused to speak. But Detective Inspector Maurice Neilly sensed he was about to crack. And when he told Beattie his mother had called at the police station with fresh clothes for him, the young UVF man burst into floods of tears.

Det Insp Neilly – who was later killed in a Chinook helicopter accident on the Mull of Kintyre which claimed many security force lives – persuaded Beatty to make a full confession.

As well as the murder of Dinny Mullen, Beatty also confessed to killing Patrick McNeice and 48 -year-old father-of-four Fred McLoughlin, who died in a UVF gun and bomb attack on the Eagle Bar, Charlemont, near Armagh.

He also admitted a number of other terrorist offences, including the attempted murder of Olive Mullen.

On September 12 1977, Beattie was sentenced to three life sentences and he served nearly 17 years behind bars.

Tomorrow morning, Beattie, from Annaghmore, Co. Armagh, will appear before Dungannon Court.

He will face charges of threatening and intimidating nationalist politician Denise Mullen by sending her an anonymous letter purporting to come from the mid-Ulster UVF.

When we spoke to him earlier this week, Garfield Beattie declined to discuss his court appearance tomorrow.

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