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Gary Haggarty: Supergrass's 'lenient' sentence to be appealed by prosecutors

The sentence handed to UVF 'supergrass' Gary Haggarty is to be appealed for being unduly lenient. Picture from Pacemaker

THE sentence handed to loyalist 'supergrass' Gary Haggarty is to be appealed by the Public Prosecution Service on the grounds it was "unduly lenient".

Haggarty (46), who admitted to hundreds of crimes including five murders, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail last month.

The former UVF commander was a paid police informer for 11 years. His 35-year jail term was reduced for helping police and agreeing to give evidence against his former associates in the Mount Vernon UVF.

However, only one man is to be prosecuted, for two murders, using Haggarty's evidence.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Stephen Herron, yesterday sought leave to refer Haggarty's sentence to the Court of Appeal "on the grounds that it is unduly lenient", a spokeswoman for the Public Prosecution Service confirmed last night.

Haggarty admitted to 202 paramilitary offences including the loyalist murders of John Harbinson, Sean McParland, Gary Convie, Eamon Fox and Sean McDermott.

He also admitted to aiding and abetting the murder of Catholic volunteer worker Peter McTasney.

A further 301 crimes were taken into consideration.

All the crimes were committed over a 16-year period from 1991 to 2007.

SDLP MLA John Dallat said last night he was pleased that the sentence will be challenged.

"Sitting in Court 13 with the relatives of those who had family members murdered by the notorious UVF gang headed by Gary Haggarty, I couldn't believe my ears when it became clear that he would receive only six and a half years for over 500 crimes, including five murders," he said.

"After committing the most heinous crimes, it felt like he was given a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card'.

"After speaking with the families of those murdered by Haggarty and his criminal gang, I wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions urging his office to appeal the decision on the grounds that it was horrendously lenient and caused immense hurt to those who lost the most."

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