Loyalist supergrass Gary Haggarty jailed for 6½ years

UVF chief pleaded guilty to five murders and almost 200 other terror offences

A loyalist supergrass has been sentenced to 6½ years in prison for 202 terror offences before he can be considered for release. Ulster Volunteer Force chief Gary Haggarty (46) pleaded guilty to five murders as his part of a controversial state deal that offered a significantly reduced prison term in return for giving evidence against other terrorist suspects. One individual is to be prosecuted over a murder using his evidence.

Judge Mr Justice Adrian Colton said Haggarty’s was a case of exceptional gravity. “The fact he was involved directly in multiple terrorist murders must be an aggravating factor. He has been involved in a terrorist campaign over a 16-year period that has resulted in deaths for which he was directly responsible. The organisation he supported and assisted has resulted in untold damage to individual lives and society as a whole.”

Such evidence provided a check against the belief that paramilitaries are “untouchable” and major criminals may otherwise escape justice, the judge said. He acknowledged those who become informers face torture and execution if caught.

The judge said Haggarty’s was not a Road to Damascus conversion but one motivated by self-interest, but added that he had given “substantial” assistance to prosecutors.