Prosecutors to appeal 'unduly lenient' sentence of loyalist supergrass

Prosecutors want to appeal the sentence of loyalist supergrass Gary Haggarty.

The former Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) leader in North Belfast was handed a minimum six-and-a-half-year sentence at Belfast Crown Court after admitting more than 200 offences, including five murders.

The judge said he would serve six-and-a-half years in prison before he is entitled to consideration for release by the Parole Commissioners as part of the peace process deal involving a heavily-discounted sentence in exchange for giving information about his criminal colleagues.

Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron is referring the sentence to the Court of Appeal (PPS/PA)
Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron is referring the sentence to the Court of Appeal (PPS/PA)

However, he has already served 1,186 days in prison on remand and is entitled to credit for that.

A statement from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said: "The Director of Public Prosecutions, Stephen Herron, has today sought leave to refer the sentence imposed on Gary Haggarty to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it is unduly lenient."

Haggarty's evidence has led to one person being charged with murder.

His murder targets included:

- John Harbinson, who was beaten to death with a hammer by a UVF gang in North Belfast in May 1997. Afterwards Haggarty went and had a drink in a nearby house, the trial judge said.

- Catholic Sean McParland, who was shot dead in front of children in 1994. Haggarty volunteered to be the lead gunman to dispel UVF suspicions about informers, the judge said.

- Catholic workmen Eamon Fox, 44, a father of six, and Gary Convie, 24, a father of one, were shot dead as they had lunch together in a car in Belfast.

- Sean McDermott, a 37-year-old Catholic found shot dead in his car near Antrim in August 1994.

Haggarty admitted involvement in the killings as part of the deal to give evidence against criminals charged.

Most people named in his police interviews will not face prosecution amid state concerns about a lack of supporting evidence.

Families of his victims said he was allowed to kill at will.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS