Northern Ireland news

UVF killer reveals victim Theresa Fox died trying to fend off gunmen

UVF killer Laurence Maguire.

Theresa Fox died trying to fight off the loyalist gunmen who attacked her in her Co Tyrone home, it has been revealed.

Charles and Theresa Fox, aged 63 and 53, were shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force at their home near Moy in September 1992.

The bodies of the couple, who had six children, were discovered by two of their daughters the day after they were murdered.

Their daughter Bernie McKearney’s husband Kevin, along with his uncle John, had been shot dead by the same UVF gang in their butcher’s shop just eight months earlier. Neither man had any paramilitary connection.

Speaking to Spotlight, unrepentant UVF killer Laurence Maguire, who was convicted in connection with the double murder, said that Mrs Fox died trying to fend her attackers off with a broom.

"She tried to run for the gun," he told the BBC.

An autopsy showed Mrs Fox's jaw was broke with the butt of a rifle and she then was shot dead in the kitchen. Her husband was shot as he ran at his wife's killers.

The Mid Ulster UVF said they were targetting the couple's son Paddy Fox, a convicted IRA man, however, he was in prison at the time, something that was known to the leadership of the loyalist organisation.

Instead it is claimed that the terror gang, under the direction of religious fundamentalist Billy Wright, were purposely attacking the family members of known republicans.

The same gang were also responsible for the murder of the Cairns brothers, shot dead in their family home near Bleary on October 28, 1993, shortly after celebrating their sister Roísín's 11th birthday.

Róisín Cairns told Spotlight that she watched on helplessly, frozen to the spot, as two UVF gunmen entered her home and shot dead her older brothers Gerard (22) and Rory (18).

A happy family photograph of the children sitting with their father Eamon was taken less than an hour before the attack.

After the birthday celebration Eamon and his wife Shelia had gone to Lurgan, leaving Róisín in the house with her older brothers.

Another sibling, Liam, then 14, had gone to a neighbour’s house.

While the Cairns always believed that loyalists Robin Jackson and Billy Wright had planned the killing it was reported at the time as a random sectarian murder.

However, Maguire, who was given five life sentences in 1994 after admitting 41 terrorist offences which included murder and attempted murder, said he had been on his way to kill the brothers a year earlier but the attack was called off.

Speaking to Spotlight he said "We were on our way to do their Cairns and got a call over the radio to say abort".

He said that they intended to kill all three brothers including 14-year-old Liam and that every male in the house would have been murdered.

Maguire, who was released in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, said all targetting information came from Billy Wright who told them he was getting it from members of the RUC.

Journalist Mandy McAuley also confronts Alan Oliver, an alleged UVF gunman turned preacher. He has been linked to 15 murders but never convicted. Now a deacon in Portadown Elim Church, he has previously denied being an informer named in court papers as a UVF gunman.

Spotlight on the Troubles - A secret History will be shown on BBC One at 9pm Tuesday, October 15.

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