Sectarian killer to push for re-release

Court
Court

A convicted sectarian killer is to press for re-release from prison after fresh charges of attempted murder were dropped.

Prosecutors told a court today they were withdrawing the case against William John Lindsay over a suspected Stanley knife attack in north Belfast last year.

The 52-year-old, of Ardoyne Road in the city, was jailed for the murder of Catholic voluntary worker Peter McTasney back in 1991.

He had been released on licence, but was returned to custody after facing fresh charges of attempted murder, threats to kill and possession of an offensive weapon.

The case related to a knife attack on a man in the Ardoyne area in August 2016.

The decision to revoke his licence was based on an assertion that he had breached conditions by becoming a danger to the public.

But at Belfast Magistrates’ Court a Public Prosecution Service (PPS) representative confirmed the charges were not being pursued.

Defence lawyers are now seeking an urgent hearing with Sentence Review Commissioners in a bid to get him back out of jail.

Lindsay was among a group of loyalist prisoners released in July 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He had been jailed for the UVF murder of Mr McTasney, 26, at the victim’s home in Bawnmore, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.

Loyalists armed with a gun and sledgehammer opened fire in the presence of their target’s three-year-old daughter, who was also injured.

A Police Ombudsman report identified the killing as one of 10 linked to a UVF unit operating out of the Mount Vernon estate in north Belfast.

Suspected paramilitary commander-turned supergrass Gary Haggarty is now also charged with the murder as part of a catalogue of terror-related crime.

Lindsay was also convicted of involvement in an attack on a republican inmate whose ear was partially bitten off at Crumlin Road jail.

Outside court his solicitor, Ciaran Shiels of Madden & Finucane, pledged to seek his client’s release from HMP Maghaberry as soon as possible.

He said: “We made submissions as far back as the police station interviews that the evidence (in the attempted murder case) was tenuous in nature.

“The PPS have now taken a decision that it does not meet the test for prosecution.

“We have now sought an expedited oral hearing with the Sentence Review Commissioners in respect of the provision decision to revoke Mr Lindsay’s licence.”