Former loyalist paramilitary pleads guilty to 200 offences

Gary Haggarty.
Gary Haggarty.

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

Gary Haggarty (45), formerly of Rush Park, but now with an address as c/o of PSNI Knocknagoney in east Belfast, entered pleas of guilty to all 200 charges following an eight year police investigation.

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 former tyre fitter, 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.

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

Mr Justice Treacy said that the sentencing hearing would take place on September 25 and September 26 this 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 RUC Special Branch handlers who worked with him when he was an informer.