Loyalist 'to be debriefed' over murder

Published Tuesday, 17 May 2011
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A former top loyalist turned supergrass is to be debriefed over the next two months in connection with a 14-year-old murder, a court has heard.

Evidence from Gary Haggarty could then form part of the prosecution case against his one-time associate, alleged ex-UVF chief Mark Haddock.

Haggarty, 39, and Haddock, 42, both from north Belfast, have been charged with the murder of William Harbinson in May 1997.

The victim, a 39-year-old taxi driver, was handcuffed and beaten to death in the Mount Vernon estate.

Charges were brought against them following a new investigation by detectives from the Historical Enquiries Team.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard on Tuesday that one of Haddock's co-accused - Haggarty - was now an assisting offender.

A prosecution service representative said: "He's still being interviewed as part of a debrief. That is expected to finish within the next two months."

A judge was told that at that stage he is expected to be prosecuted for all his criminality, including the murder charge.

Only at that stage can the case against his co-accused proceed, the court heard.

Details were disclosed during a review of the case against Haddock, who is originally from Mount Vernon.

"The assisting offender may form part of the prosecution evidence against Mark Haddock," the prosecution lawyer added.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told Haddock, a suspected Special Branch agent who survived an assassination attempt in 2006, is out on bail at an undisclosed location.

His case will be mentioned again in September, with his lawyer predicting it could take some time to progress.

Barrister Mark Farrell said: "The assisting offender needs to be prosecuted in the usual way and given the benefit of the legislation."

Haddock was given permission not to attend the next hearing after Mr Farrell said: "I would ask that the accused is excused for a variety of reasons I don't need to go into."

© UTV News
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