Northern Ireland news

Court heard alleged role of Oliver in Craigavon killings

The mobile shop in which three Catholics were shot dead by loyalist gunmen in Craigavon 1991
Connla Young

DETAILS of Alan Oliver’s alleged involvement in the Drumbeg mobile shop murders emerged during a court case in 1995.

James Thomas Harper was convicted of the triple murder after he told police that he drove Oliver to and from the scene.

He later appealed the conviction but the case was thrown out.

Court documents include claims that notorious loyalist leader Billy Wright and Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton met the killer gang in Oliver’s house two hours before the gun attack was carried out.

The target was said to be the shop’s owner, who it was claimed had refused to serve members of a UDR patrol in the area.

Harper told police that another Mid-Ulster loyalist acted as a scout while he and Oliver drove to the murder scene in a van that had been picked up earlier in Lisburn.

According to the police notes, Harper claimed that Wright had ordered Oliver to “plug” the intended target and shoot in the air if anyone else approached.

Despite this, Oliver was said to have shot dead the three victims with a Browning handgun.

Harper said Oliver then used a radio to make the chilling remark ‘Tatie bread’ to indicate to another member of the gang that he had killed someone.

When asked by officers how he felt when he heard what had happened, the court papers say Harper replied “Hard to describe”.

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