Northern Ireland

Wife of Freddie Scappaticci dies after lengthy illness

<span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; ">Freddie Scappaticci, whose wife Sheila passed away this week</span>
Freddie Scappaticci, whose wife Sheila passed away this week

The wife of alleged IRA informer Freddie Scappaticci has died in hospital following a lengthy illness.

Sheila Scappaticci, nee Cunningham, who was originally from the Market area of south Belfast passed away on Wednesday.

She had remained in Belfast after her husband fled the city in 2003, when it was alleged he was the double agent known as Stakenife.

While the couple lived apart, with Scappaticci living under witness protection in England, his wife - a well respected member of the community - remained in Northern Ireland, although it is believed she continued to have regular contact with him.

There were unconfirmed reports that Scappaticci was at her bedside when she passed away.

Read More: Detective in Stakeknife probe says new MI5 documents found

Mrs Scappaticci, a mother of six, was an active member of her local church and was said by friends to have found comfort in her faith after the family was thrust into the spotlight due to the allegations against her husband.

Files covering the activities of the army's top agent within the IRA were sent to the Public Prosecution Service in October.

This followed a three-year independent investigation, Operation Kenova headed up by retired chief constable Jon Boutcher.

Read More: IRA sent Scappaticci to find informer after SAS ambush at Loughgall

Freddie Scappaticci (73) was arrested for questioning in the course of the investigation. He has denied being Stakeknife.

A full report of Operation Kenova's findings will be published at the conclusion of all legal proceedings.

Shiela Scappaticci will be buried in the City Cemetery following requiem mass in St Agnes' Church in west Belfast at 9.30am on Saturday.

She is survived by her husband Freddie, three daughters, three sons and grandchildren.