A UUP MLA has questioned how “any decent society” could allow self-confessed UVF killer and police informer Gary Haggarty to one day be freed from prison.
At the end of a sentence hearing for former the North Belfast UVF commander, UUP justice spokesperson Doug Beattie branded the crimes carried out by the loyalist godfather “shocking and disturbing”.
UVF chief Haggarty, 45, has pleaded guilty to 202 terror offences, including five murders, as his part of a controversial state deal that offered a significantly reduced prison term in return for giving evidence against other terrorist suspects.
Mr Beattie said his thoughts are with the families of Haggarty’s victims.
But he expressed concern that the paramilitary commander-turned-supergrass witness could one day be freed from prison.
He added: “The revelations and graphic details of the crimes of UVF member Gary Haggarty are both shocking and disturbing in equal measure.
“My immediate thoughts are how could any decent society allow this man to roam its streets ever again. Yet I am struck by the fact that this is becoming normal practice in our society and many are becoming desensitised by revelations like this.”
Mr Beattie also spoke of his concerns that, under proposed legacy structures outlined in the Stormont House Agreement, graphic information regarding similar crimes “will become common place”.
He added: “Likewise, any call for an amnesty for crimes like those perpetrated by Gary Haggarty will mean that the perpetrators of some of these vile crimes will be free to boast about their exploits.”
One of the five murders Haggarty has admitted himself was that of 55-year-old Belfast grandfather Sean McParland in 1994.
He confessed to that crime and a litany of others after signing his contentious supergrass deal following his arrest in 2009.
Mr Beattie said: “I am struck by the gravity of what Haggarty has claimed as a paid Special Branch Human Intelligence Source (HUMINT).
“These sources - agents, spies - whatever you wish to call them, play an important role in fighting crime and terrorism.
“However, there should be no circumstances where it is acceptable for a HUMINT source to be involved in murder.
“I do not adhere to the argument that for the greater good things like this are going to happen.”
At the end of the sentence hearing, Justice Colton said he would reserve his decision and hand down the sentence in the new year.