Family 'distraught' after hearing loved one was murdered on the toss of a coin

Michael Monaghan, a son-in-law of murder victim Sean McParland. Picture by Pacemaker

MEMBERS of a UVF killer gang flipped a coin to decide who would be the gunman before murdering an innocent Catholic man babysitting his grandchildren, a court heard yesterday.

Sean McParland (55) was shot by UVF commander-turned-supergrass Gary Haggarty in Skegoneill Avenue in north Belfast in February 1994.

During a sentencing hearing at Belfast Crown Court yesterday Mr McParland's distraught relatives heard graphic details of his confession and how Haggarty and another UVF member were due to toss a coin to see who would kill the defenceless grandfather - but that Haggarty volunteered.

Police informer Haggarty has pleaded guilty to 202 crimes, including five murders, as part of a controversial state deal that offered a shorter prison term in return for giving evidence against other paramilitary suspects.

Michael Monaghan, a son-in-law of Mr McParland, said the family had been deeply distressed by the details of the case heard in court.

"It was a tough day," he said. "We had to sit there and listen to crime after crime while Haggarty sat there without a care in the world."

Mr Monaghan, whose four children were being looked after by Mr McParland on the night of his murder, said the family are deeply unhappy at how the case has been handled and are taking legal action.

"You do wonder if it's better to be a criminal in this country," he said. "Haggarty is to be sentenced next month and he is probably going to walk. They could say he's already served his time."

The court heard Haggarty, once leader of the UVF's notorious Mount Vernon gang in north Belfast, shot Mr McParland in the neck at close range.

Haggarty's barrister said yesterday the loyalist "is sorry, it was the wrong person killed - he is sorry for the kids that were there".

However Mr Monaghan said Haggarty has never expressed any remorse.

"Haggarty has never said he is sorry," he said.


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