UVF brigadier led the entry into the courthouse last week as masked men sat just meters from the victims’ families

A senior loyalist wanted to show his support for the defendants when informant Haggarty made shocking statements

The Sunday world It is understood the South East Antrim (SEA) terror group’s brigadier led the raid on Monday morning.

The show of strength was intended as a show of support for suspected murderer James Smyth, who was on trial over the double murder of Catholic workers Gary Convie and Eamon Fox in north Belfast in 1994.

Masked men sat just meters from the victims’ families in a blatant act of intimidation.

The stunt backfired, and Judge O’Hara ordered them to either remove their face coverings or leave.

Sources say the UVF leadership is said to be “furious” over what it sees as an own goal.

Members wanted to keep a low profile during the three-week trial that exposed the organization as a sectarian killing machine full of police advertisements.

It is not clear whether the SEA brigadier – who cannot be named for legal reasons – acted spontaneously or had the approval of headquarters.

In the witness box, supergrass killer Gary Haggarty blew up the UVF’s sectarian murder machine.

The Supertout targeted his terrorist friends and picked them off one by one while exposing the inner workings of the UVF’s sectarian mission.

With a “thank you very much” to Mr Justice O’Hara as he left the witness stand on Wednesday, Haggarty turned his back on his career as a ruthless paramilitary and police critic.

They are the last words anyone in this city will hear from him as he returns to his new life under a new name in a secret location in Britain.

His words of regret will ring hollow to the families of those he killed, especially the relatives of Convie and Fox, who listened to Haggarty plotting her double murder.

In doing so, he named and shamed the men he claimed had the blood of innocent Catholic workers on their hands.

Former UDR soldier Smyth (57) is on trial for the double murder, which he denies.

James Smyth is charged with double murder

Police agent Haggarty has described Smyth as a ruthless killer and implicated him in at least two other murders – the murder of taxi driver Gerard Brady and Sean McDermott, who was shot dead in his car in Antrim in 1994.

Haggarty joined the UVF in 1991 and within two years was a Special Branch informant and deputy to Mark Haddock in the UVF’s notorious Mount Vernon unit.

Haddock took over the reins of government after his predecessor, Hugh “Boot” Hill, was jailed for extortion.

He turned Mount Vernon into a sectarian murder machine. Haddock and Haggarty shared the two RUC handlers, but were allowed to oversee a killing spree.

In his testimony, Haggarty cited the bewildering number of people involved in the Convie/Fox murders.

He said Roy Stewart was the UVF’s head of operations and oversaw the planning of the attack.

Haggarty told those gathered in Courtroom 12 at the Laganside complex in Belfast that Stewart was involved at every level.

Stewart was in a pub in Antrim with Tommy Sheppard when Sheppard was shot dead by Haddock.

The UVF said he was executed because he was an RUC informant – it was more likely that he was involved in blowing Haddock’s cover.

Stewart is said to have lured Sheppard to the bar. Haddock was accompanied on the attack by Darren Moore, another Special Branch agent.

Stewart later came into conflict with the leadership when he resigned and defected to Billy Wright’s LVF in protest at the direction in which UVF Chief of Staff John “Bunter” Graham was taking the organization.

According to sources, Bunter then sent him a death threat.

Stewart was named as one of several suspects believed to have committed the 1997 murder of GAA officer Sean Brown.

Mr Brown was kidnapped as he locked the gates at the Bellaghy GFC ground. He was bundled into the boot of a car and driven to a secluded lane near Randalstown, where he was shot six times.

Stewart now leads a quiet life in Antrim.

Billy “Buttons” Montgomery was the getaway driver who picked up Smyth after spraying the workers with shots from a Sten gun, they said.

Eamon Fox and Gary Convie

According to Haggarty, Buttons was a UVF commander in Rathcoole who regularly stored weapons for the terror group in his home.

It was said that he picked up Smyth in a van which he used to transport his hunting dogs. Montgomery, a heavy drinker, still lives on the sprawling estate but is a peripheral figure with no defined role in the organization.

Mark “Gutsy” Campbell, who was also named by Haggarty in court, was supposed to act as a backup shooter in the operation and is said to have handled the murder weapon.

It was said that he accompanied Montgomery in the getaway car

Campbell moved to Islandmagee, where he died of a drug overdose several years ago.

He also implicated Jim “Snapper” Dodds, the former deputy to battalion commander Rab Warnock.

Supergrass Haggarty described how the assassination team met at John “Marshy” Marsden’s home to discuss the operation.

Marsden, a former UDR soldier, was considered a loner and sources told us there was a stir when he was added to the hit team.

According to Haggarty’s evidence, he accompanied him when he test-fired the murder weapon on waste ground near the railway line. It was claimed that the attack was launched from Marsden’s home.

Haggarty told the court his house was “like a squat.”

He described how Marsden had drawn outlines of corpses in chalk all over his house and drilled holes in the wall with numbers next to them to make it look like “a crime scene.”

Haggarty said it was like “the inside of a mental asylum.”

In here, Haggarty said that along with Smyth, Mark Haddock, Roy Stewart and the two men tasked with taking the murderer away from the crime scene – Campbell and Montgomery – the plan to kill the workers was fully discussed.

Also at one of the meetings, Haggarty said, were Mount Vernon thugs Willie “Muscles” Young and John “Bonzer” Bond.

They are another couple on the Special Branch payroll and are believed to have been part of the team that carried out the brutal murder of Raymond McCord Jr. in November 1997.

Bond was known as “The Enforcer” and, alongside Haggarty, ordered and carried out a series of punitive shootings.

Gary Haggarty told the court how the murders were planned

The Sunday world believes some of its victims have taken legal action because they were shot by agents of the state.

“It is unbelievable how many people were involved in the Convie/Fox murders,” a UVF source said Sunday world.

“Mount Vernon, Rathcoole, Monkstown – and make no mistake, this would not have been done without the consent of the Shankill.

“So from top to bottom, almost everyone worked for Special Branch.”

When asked this week when he left the UVF, Haggarty said “the night before the release of Operation Ballast”.

Ballast was the report published in 2007 by the then police ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan.

She was assigned to investigate the McCord murder and uncovered collusion between the RUC Special Branch and almost the entire membership of the Mount Vernon unit.

It stopped the UVF in its tracks.

Judge O’Hara will hear a defense motion, to which Smyth has no case to answer, before handing down his sentence.


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