THE trial of former UVF leader Mark Haddock and his 13 co-accused continued at Belfast Crown Court this week, where prosecution witness Robert Stewart has been giving evidence against his alleged former associates.
The 14 defendants, including six men from Newtownabbey - Alexander Thomas Wood, 35, from Milewater Way, Jason Loughlin, 35, of Bryson Court, David Samuel McCrum, 32, from Beechgrove Drive, William Hinds, 46, from Ballycraigy Gardens, Mark Thompson, 36, of Ballyvesey Green, and David Smart, 37, of Milewater Close - face a total of 97 charges. Nine of the accused, including Haddock, are charged with murdering UDA boss Tommy English at his Ballyduff home in October 2000.
Brothers David and Robert Stewart, formerly from New Mossley, are giving evidence against the 14 accused. In return, the two former UVF men, who according to a Sunday newspaper have been disowned by their elderly parents, got a reduced sentence for their part in the murder and a catalogue of other offences.
During his testimony, 37-year-old Robert Stewart claimed that the terror gang, under the orders of Haddock, planned and carried out the murder of Tommy English.
However, under cross-examination from Haddock’s lawyer, Frank O’Donoghue QC, Stewart admitted being an alcoholic and a drug user who fled Northern Ireland with money stolen from his parents.
The lawyer also pointed out discrepancies between what Stewart said in police interviews in August 2008 and the evidence he gave in court.
The witness admitted that he had lied to police, but said that when he handed himself in, he was nervous, under pressure and on prescription valium and had made some mistakes as a result. However, he said he was “now telling it like it really was.”
The 14 defendants, who are represented by 24 barristers and eight firms of solicitors, all deny the litany of charges against them.
The trial continues and is expected to last for up to three months.
Read the full story in this week’s Times...