Northern Ireland

Man acquitted of Johnny Adair murder bid to sue PSNI

Former UDA/UFF commander Johnny Adair
Former UDA/UFF commander Johnny Adair

A MAN acquitted of trying to kill Johnny Adair is suing the PSNI over a gun attack on his family home believed to have been carried out by the former UDA/UFF commander’s notorious ‘C Company’.

Stephen Larkin, from Ardoyne in north Belfast, was initially convicted of attempting to kill Adair in March 1993 and later received a 16-year sentence.

A week later a UDA/UFF hit squad launched a gun attack on Mr Larkin’s family home while he was in custody.

His mother and siblings were not in the property at the time but a much-loved pet dog was killed after the house was raked by automatic gunfire.

In 1996 Mr Larkin was cleared of trying to kill Adair after a retrial ordered by the Court of Appeal when new witnesses came forward to provide alibis.

A former member of the French Foreign Legion, Mr Larkin is now suing the PSNI, Ministry of Defence and Secretary of State for personal injuries, loss and damage as result of alleged misfeasance.

A complaint has also “been accepted for investigation” by the Police Ombudsman.

Mr Larkin said that in the years after he was released from prison he was subjected to loyalist death threats.

The 52-year-old believes his background in the French Foreign Legion, which he served in for three years, singled him out for attention.

He said he continues to hold strong feelings over what happened.

“I have a deep hatred for what they did, I will take that to my grave,” he said.

The experience continues to have a detrimental impact on him.

“I’m a recovering alcoholic and my kids will tell you I go from 0-100, I have anger issues,” he said.

“It devastated my life.

“I was off the drink for 12 years and went back on it three years ago.

“It’s all down to that.”

Mr Larkin believes that there may have been collusion in his case.

He said the house was targeted by the UDA/UFF after his personal details were revealed.

“It was bad enough being in jail for something I didn’t do but when that happened it added fuel to the fire,” he said.

He now wants to know why he was targeted.

“I would love to get to the bottom of that, I would love the truth for my kids and family in general.”

His solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said: “We are confident the case was included in the wider Operation Medfield investigation.”

Operation Medfield is a major Police Ombudsman investigation focused on the UDA/UFF in north and west Belfast.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman last night said: “We have received a complaint about a UDA/UFF attack on Stephen Larkin in Belfast in 1993.

“The complaint has been accepted for investigation but has been pended as our investigative resources are currently committed to other legacy cases.

“We are continuing to evaluate the complaint and it has not at this stage been associated with any broader thematic investigation.”

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: "As legal proceedings are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment."