No evidence offered in trial

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FOUR alleged UVF terrorists accused of intimidating a Ballyclare doorman were acquitted of all the charges against them on Friday, March 2 after the Crown offered “no evidence”.

Prosecution lawyer David Russell told Belfast Crown Court that on foot of the judgment of Mr Justice Gillen on the recent supergrass trial where 14 men were acquitted - nine of them for the bloody Loyalist murder of Tommy English - “a review of the directing test was carried out in this case, as the prosecution are under a duty to do”.

He added that the “inevitable conclusion” was to offer no evidence against the four.

Mr Justice Weir said that, accordingly, he entered verdicts of not guilty on each of the charges against the four men who were 64-year-old Robert Warnock from Ballyalton Park, Newtownabbey, 42-year-old William Young, from Seapark Drive, Belfast, 34-year-old Raymond Burns, from Ballyvessey Court, Newtownabbey and 35-year-old Ronald Bowe, from Grove Street East, Belfast.

They 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.

Warnock, was only charged with the two counts - but the other three had faced further charges relating to explosives.

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

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

The only evidence against the four came from supergrass Robert Stewart.

However, following the 71 day, Diplock no jury supergrass trial of 14 loyalists, Mr Justice Gillen ruled that evidence from Robert Stewart and his brother Ian Stewart was “infected with lies,” given by two men who were “ruthless criminal and unflinching terrorists”.

The judge said the pair had “lied to the police and to the court”. Bowe was among the 14 defendants who were cleared of the charges against them.

In relation to the incident revolving around pub door man Mr Gowdy, Mark Haddock, who was also one of the defendants in the supergrass trial, was the only man convicted of beating him.

Originally charged with trying to kill the doorman in December 2002, Mr Justice Weatherup convicted Haddock of GBH with intent and jailed him for ten years.