British Special Branch double-agent Mark Haddock ordered the murder of a paramilitary rival and smirked as he told the gunmen, “try not to shoot the kids”, a high-profile trial in Belfast was told this week.
Haddock singled out UDA member Tommy English as the target and conducted a scouting operation at his house ahead of the shooting almost 11 years ago, Belfast Crown Court was told.
English was murdered in front of his wife at their home in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast, at the height of a feud among loyalist paramlitaries.
The evidence implicating the Special Branch informer from Mount Vernon in north Belfast was provided by two brothers, former UVF members Robert and David Stewart, who have already admitted their involvement in the October 2000 murder.
The prosecution case against Haddock and 13 co-accused drew significant media attention to Belfast Crown Court, as well as a protest by loyalist opponents of the trial.
The case followed the exposure by former Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan of high levels of collusion between the PSNI and the UVF death squads of north Belfast in recent years.
A subsequent investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) secured the confession of the Stewart brothers, one of whom had converted to Catholicism.
The court heard that before Haddock’s murder gang set off, they dined on cola, crisps and chocolate allegedly supplied by Haddock but for one of the gang, Ronald Bowe, it wasn’t enough. Mr Ken said that Bowe, from Mount Vernon, complained that “he couldn’t wait until [the shooting] was over so he could go home and have a kebab”.
David Stewart claimed Haddock had made it clear that he wanted English dead and had declared: “I want him done, shot dead.”
The gunmen burst into Tommy English’s home on Halloween night while their nine-year-old twin sons and seven-year-old daughter were at home, before singling him out and shooting him several times.
On Thursday, Robert Stewart told the court he and his brother had handed themselves in because they had wanted a “clean break”.
“Over the years the things we had done caught up with us. We wanted to make a clean breast of things,” he said. “It’s not easy to live with those sort of things.”
Stewart said he and his brother only went to HET because they believed that Haddock worked as a police agent.
Also charged with the killing is Haddock’s alleged UVF second in command David ‘Reggie’ Millar, as well as the alleged leaders of the nearby New Mossley UVF, Alexander ‘Poco’ Wood and Jason Loughlin.
A former republican socialist prisoner, who spent time on remand in the 1980s on the word of Irish National Liberation Army informer Harry Kirkpatrick, has denounced the resumption of the supergrass system.
Terry Harkin, one of the last men freed when the original supergrass system collapsed in 1985, said: “It may be loyalists today but have no doubt that if the state get away with this case it will be republicans who will be subject to the system tomorrow.
“Back in the 1980s republicans and republican socialists correctly branded this sham as a series of show trials. It was a travesty of justice, and it is a travesty of justice now. All republicans, while they are pro-Good Friday agreement like Sinn Fein or those opposed to that settlement, should speak out against this.”