Court hears how loyalist supergrass Haggarty worked as police informer after murder questioning

Gary Haggarty.

A former loyalist paramilitary turned supergrass has told the courts he continued working as a police informer for a decade after being questioned over four killings.

Gary Haggarty told Belfast Crown Court a claim that two workmen were murdered because they were republicans was a front. He said the UVF knew they were innocent Catholics.

Haggarty was giving evidence for a second day during the trial of James Stewart Smyth, 57, of Forthriver Link in Belfast for the murders of Eamon Fox and Gary Convie.

Smyth is charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, possession of a firearm and membership of a proscribed organisation, the UVF and has denied all charges.

Mr Convie and Mr Fox were in a parked car at a building site when they were shot dead by a gunman standing in a playground beside North Queen Street in May 1994.

The scene of the murders

There was a heavy police presence at Laganside courts as Haggarty returned to the witness box.

The 51-year-old was handed a reduced prison sentence after admitting more than 500 terror crimes, including five murders.

He was released from prison in 2018 only four months into the six-and-a-half year term, for providing information about other terrorist suspects.

He had previously told the court that his role in the murders of Mr Fox and Mr Convie included tampering with fencing near the building site and moving guns.

He previously said he first joined the UVF in early 1991, then worked as an informer for the RUC’s special branch from 1993 to 2004.

Defence barrister Michael Borrelli KC put it to Haggarty that he had self-preservation on his mind by not handling the weapon which was used in the shootings.

Haggarty responded: “Police knew I was an active terrorist, by 1994 I had been arrested for four murders. I continued working for them for another 10 years.”

He told the court that he was surprised that two Catholic workmen were working on the building site in what was a predominantly Protestant area.

The defence asked if he thought they were two republican targets.

Eamon Fox, 44, and Gary Convie, 24, were shot dead in 1994.

Haggarty said he did not know that initially but was later told that by UVF commanders.

Asked how he discovered the two men were not republicans, he said: “I don’t think Tiger’s Bay UVF’s military commander and director of operations thought they were anything other than innocent Catholics.

“I think it was a front to say they were republicans.

“They were two innocent Catholic workmen. I think the leadership of the UVF knew that at that time.”

When asked if he would have been bothered if he had known it was two innocent Catholics, Haggarty said the operation would have gone ahead but that it would have bothered him.

He added: “I was in no doubt in my mind someone was going to get shot that day – the bones of the operation, I knew nothing about.”

Haggarty also told the court that he had not seen Smyth fire the shots which killed Mr Fox and Mr Convie, but said he had spoken to Smyth after and “he told me of his involvement in it”.

Earlier, Mr Borrelli put it to Haggarty that he had been paid £58,000 for his years of work as a police informer.

Haggarty said he believed the total was substantially lower than that.

The hearing continues.

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