Loyalist supergrass Gary Haggarty due to be sentenced for 200-plus terror crimes


A notorious loyalist paramilitary commander turned supergrass is due to be sentenced later for five murders and almost 200 more terror offences.

Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) chief Gary Haggarty, 45, a long-time police informer, has pleaded guilty to a litany of serious crimes as his part of a controversial state deal that offered a significantly reduced prison term in return for giving evidence against other terrorist suspects.

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

As well as the five murders, Haggarty, who is 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.

The loyalist pleaded guilty to a total of 202 crimes. The judge will also take into account 301 lesser offences committed by the paramilitary godfather.

Gary Haggarty sentencing
Gary Haggarty sentencing

The former boss of the UVF's notorious north Belfast Mount Vernon unit confessed to his crimes after signing his contentious supergrass deal following his arrest in 2009. Since turning state witness, Haggarty provided information on 55 loyalist murders and 20 attempted murders in 1,015 police interviews.

However, prosecutors are to mount a prosecution against only one man, for two murders, on the back of the evidence.

The vast majority of individuals named by Haggarty in his police interviews will not face prosecution amid state concerns about a lack of supporting evidence.

Graphic details of Haggarty's murderous confessions were outlined at a pre-sentence hearing last year, as were explosive claims that police failed to prevent loyalist murders despite receiving advance warning from their high-ranking UVF informant.

Judge Mr Justice Colton is due to hand down sentence at Belfast Crown Court.

Having already served three years in custody on remand, Haggarty could potentially walk free if he receives a significantly reduced term.