Glenanne Gang member Garfield Beattie found guilty of sending threatening letter to murder victim's daughter
Glenanne Gang member Garfield Beattie has been found guilty of sending a letter to a woman in an attempt to have her drop legal proceedings against him, after a judge rejected his claims no threat was intended.
Denise Mullen’s father Denis was shot dead by the notorious loyalist at the front door of his home in September 1975.
Aged just four, Ms Mullen was soaked in her father's blood and heard the gunmen fire 13 shots at her mother, as she fled across fields to a neighbour's house.
Beattie (64) of Moss Road, Portadown was convicted of the murder.
He appeared at Dungannon Magistrates Court torday where he accepted writing a letter to Ms Mullen on 28 September 2020, telling her to withdraw the civil legal action launched against him in respect of her father’s murder.
However he denied this was in any way sinister or threatening.
On opening the letter Ms Mullen told the court: “I was in a total state of shock. I had absolutely no idea who it was from until I contacted the PSNI.”
Ms Mullen accepted initially meeting Beattie "through no fault of my own. He stopped me in the street. Much to my dismay, I introduced myself and shook his hand. He introduced himself as Gerard Beattie and said he was from Annaghmore, Portadown. That’s when I realised who he was.”
She continued, “He said he wished to offer information on my father’s murder and the Reavey case. He gave me his phone number. I talked it over with Eugene Reavey and we asked to meet him in Moy. He agreed but then decided he couldn’t and it needed to be at his house.”
Referring to Beattie as ‘it’ Ms Mullen continued, “I was very anxious about meeting him at his house - after all he shot my father. But I went because Eugene came with me. It’s been 46 years and I’m actively seeking accountability. I accepted his offer.”
During this meeting Beattie discussed his involvement with the UVF, then being offered a gun and told Ms Mullan’s father and mother were to be murdered.
He spoke of a fourth person at the scene of the murder who fired a gun into the air in the aftermath to indicate, “A job well done.”
“He insisted I know who this person is,” said Ms Mullen. “I begged him to tell me his name but he couldn’t."
She continued: “However it (Beattie) sent the letter. It tried to broker a deal for me to drop legal matters. It didn’t give any information. It wants it all his own way.”
Beattie then took the stand and described spotting Ms Mullen in Moy and shouting across to her.
“She said I want to see you. She actually ran across the street. She said ‘We don’t blame you for the murder of my father. It’s the other men behind you.’ I told her I was sorry for what happened and I agreed there were others behind it., She said, ‘We’ll have to have a meeting’. I agreed to it.”
He continued: “We met about 10 days later in my house. She was with Mr Reavey. We talked about her father’s murder.”
Sometime after Beattie learned proceedings had been issued against him to seize his assets, and wrote to Ms Mullen because, “She was starting a precedent that was going to have long-term effects on Northern Ireland, because both parties would be suing each other for the next hundred years. I reminded her of her own frail health. I said if she didn’t stop it would have consequences on her health, not on her life.”
He told the court: “Denise put it all over the newspapers that she was claiming against me. I was told a lot of people in the paramilitary world were getting very, very worried about her course of action. There had been conversations between loyalist and republican community workers.”
In respect of matters at the time of Mr Mullen’s murder, he said, “I believe the loyalist unit I was in had been infiltrated by a man working for the British Army. If I was right, he could have prevented a lot of murders.
"Back in 1976 I covered for them but when I found out a British Army agent was involved that was me finished. Every Catholic murdered in Armagh and Tyrone was murdered by British Army weapons. I feel sorry for Ms Mullen. I wanted to help her."
He acknowledged signing the letter East Tyrone UVF "was wrong and I shouldn’t have done it. But it wasn’t intimidation or harassment. There’s no threat there. I’m on licence. If I made a threat I can be lifted. I do admit she may have taken it up wrong.”
District Judge Michael Ranaghan found Beattie guilty but decided to allow for reports.
He ordered Beattie "to leave the court with your head down. Don’t even glance at Ms Mullen.”
Sentencing will take place next month.
Ms Mullen's solicitor Gavin Booth said: "Beattie tried to use the UVF to threaten Ms Mullen and her family in order to stop her and others from obtaining the truth in relation to the Glenanne Gang."