Northern Ireland news

Garfield Beattie jailed for 15 months for UVF letter

Garfield Beattie. Picture by Hugh Russell.

Glenanne Gang member Garfield Beattie has been jailed for sending a threatening letter signed ‘East Tyrone UVF’ to the daughter of a man he murdered in 1975, urging her to drop legal proceedings against him.

Denis Mullen (35) was murdered by the notorious gang in the presence of his four-year-old daughter Denise, who was covered in blood and heard gunmen fire 13 shots at her mother, as she fled across fields.

Although Beattie (64) of Moss Road, Portadown accepted sending the letter, he denied any malicious intent but was convicted.

The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports however while Beattie was told to attend court today in person he decided to appear by video-link from his solicitor’s office, citing concerns for his security and media attention.

District Judge Michael Ranaghan said, “Mr Beattie is very much willing to engage in self-publicity when it suits him. I give no credence to anything he says. Either he appears or an arrest warrant will be issued.”

Further time was allowed and a defence barrister explained a taxi had been ordered to bring Beattie to court.

Denise Mullen. Picture Mark Marlow.

Ms Mullen and her mother were in attendance at court, accompanied by family and friends.

Last month, Ms Mullen told Dungannon Magistrates Court of “legal and personal” issues with Beattie.

“The legal issue is I am trying to seize his assets, and the personal issue is he murdered my father,” she said.

After Ms Mullen’s legal action was made public in the media in September 2020 she received a letter signed, “East Tyrone UVF”.

Beattie accepted writing this claiming it was intended to prevent “long-term effects on Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement and consequences on Ms Mullan’s health, her family but not on her life.”

“She was starting a precedent,” he said. “People in the paramilitary world were very worried. I was told if she wins this case, the Bloody Sunday Inquiry will fall into insignificance because it won’t cost millions, it would be trillions.”

He claimed “UVF welfare” offered to fund his legal representation but he refused insisting he isn’t a member.

He acknowledged signing the letter East Tyrone UVF was wrong but, “It wasn’t intimidation or harassment. She may have taken it up wrong.”

A defending barrister said of Beattie: “He served 16 years imprisonment for his crimes in the 1970’s. Prior to this matter, he has not come to police attention since his release. He’s led a quiet and untroubling existence. He has been rehabilitated but remains under life-licence. He suffers from clinically diagnosed complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but notwithstanding this, is fully responsible for his actions and fully liable."

Judge Ranaghan told Beattie, “The devastating, cowardly and murderous acts impacted on Ms Mullan and continue to do so. In effect you ruined her life. You compounded that by your vicious, cowardly actions in sending that letter. I do not believe there is one genuine drop of remorse in your body. You pushed it to the wire. You made Ms Mullan get in the witness box.”

Beattie was jailed for 15 months bound by a Restraining Order preventing contact or public comment on Ms Mullan or her family.

The defence indicated their intention to appeal however Judge Ranaghan has yet to decide if Beattie will be released ahead of this.

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