Killer gang still getting away with murder
Killer gang still getting away with murder


A loyalist who was described by a judge as a “convicted sectarian gunman and murderer” nevertheless walked free from court this week after he was found not guilty of killing two Catholic men.

Jimmy ‘Shades’ Smyth was found not guilty of killing Eamon Fox and Gary Convie and was also acquitted of one count of attempted murder, possession of a firearm and membership of the paramilitary UVF.

As he was leaving Belfast Crown Court last Thursday, Smyth (pictured, left) covered his face and punched the air in celebration.

Mr Convie, Mr Fox and a third man had been working on a building site in the North Queen Street area in May 1994 and were sitting in Mr Convie’s car on their lunch break when the gunman opened fire.

The pair were victims of the notorious Mount Vernon UVF unit that waged a brutal sectarian murder campaign. Almost the entire membership were on the payroll of RUC Special Branch and other police agencies, with more than a dozen murders believed to have been carried out with the full knowledge of agent handlers.

Mr Convie and Mr Fox died in a hail of bullets fired from a gunman standing in an adjacent children’s playground. Prior to the shooting, a hole had been cut in a fence which gave access to the gunman, who was seen fleeing across the playground afterwards and heard shouting “Up the UVF”.

The trial last year had heard evidence from former UVF man turned loyalist ‘supergrass’ Gary Haggarty. Haggarty (pictured, right) and fellow police tout Mark Haddock watched as thew two men were blasted to death on their orders.

Haggarty was handed a reduced prison sentence after admitting more than 500 conflict-related crimes, including five murders, but he was released from prison in 2018 only four months into the six-and-a-half year term, for providing information about other members of his death squad.

However, Justice O’Hara said Haggarty was an unreliable witness, and that he also had doubts about DNA evidence presented by the prosecution.

The judge noted that Smyth, who had a previous conviction for murder, was “happy to murder Catholics for being Catholics”. But Haggarty was a “deeply flawed individual” who had shown he was prepared to lie, he said.

Mr Fox’s son Kieran told of his “heartbreak” as he believed the family’s last chance of getting justice had passed.

He said: “As far as the criminal side goes, yes I think it is. We are looking at other possibilities because this is just the tip of an iceberg.”

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