The family of two Catholic men murdered by a loyalist double killer have demanded to know why his ‘good behaviour’ release licence has not been revoked - despite being charged with two more attempted murders.
The prominent north Belfast loyalist John Howcroft appeared in court on Saturday charged with attempting to murder ex-UDA chiefs Andre Shoukri and John Boreland.
The former UDA prisoner had previously been jailed for the separate sectarian murders in Belfast. The 46-year-old was sentenced to life in prison but freed under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
While republican ex-prisoners released on licence are frequently returned to jail with little explanation or justification, a number of loyalists appear to have been simply allowed to resume their paramilitary activities.
Relatives of 22-year-old north Belfast man Jim Meighan, who was one of the victims, have questioned why Howcroft’s licence had not been revoked by now.
Mr Meighan’s sister Michelle said the family felt angry over the failure of the British government to act.
“He is arrested for attempted murder and possession of a gun - his licence should be revoked right away,” she said.
“We feel angry about it. The rest of the family is just as angry as I am and wondering what is going on here.”
The nephew of another of Howcroft’s victims, Eddie Campbell, has revealed he has written to Ms Villiers through his lawyer also calling for Howcroft’s licence to be revoked.
“All we want to see is justice, and it would be unjust if his licence wasn’t revoked,” said 42-year-old Eddie Campbell, who was named after his uncle.
Howcroft has been charged with two counts of attempted murder and possessing a firearm with intent to murder Andre Shoukri and John Boreland.
Boreland was shot in the thigh while close associate, former UDA ‘brigadier’ Shoukri, escaped injury in the attack.