Some charges against a so-called loyalist supergrass accused of a catalogue of murders and paramilitary crime are to be dropped, it has been revealed.
Gary Haggarty is no longer to be prosecuted for three alleged offences, understood to relate to possessing explosives and firearms, his lawyers said.
His legal team are also set to challenge the “propriety” of prosecuting a man they say worked as a state agent for some of the remaining 209 counts against him.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court was told that a hearing to decide if the suspected UVF commander-turned police informer has a case to answer is scheduled for November.
Haggarty, 44, has been waiting to discover if he will stand trial since signing an agreement to become an assisting offender under the terms of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) back in 2010.
The north Belfast man was charged with a record 212 charges covering a 16-year period between 1991 and 2007.
The prosecution case against him runs to 12,000 pages, with his alleged offences including:
• Five murders, 31 conspiracy to murder and six attempted murders.
• Four kidnappings, six false imprisonment and five hijacking.
• Twelve possessing explosives with intent to endanger life and 47 counts of having a firearm with intent.
• Eighteen charges of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
• Three counts of arson, conspiracy to defraud and concealing the proceeds of criminal conduct.
• Two charges each of directing terrorism and belonging to a proscribed organisation.
• Seven counts of possessing money or property for the purposes of terrorism.
Haggarty, whose address is listed as c/o the Police Service of Northern Ireland, is believed to be living at a secret location in England.
He was not present for the latest stage in an ongoing court review of the case.
A Public Prosecution Service (PPS) representative told District Judge Fiona Bagnall that senior Crown counsel is still working on issues in the case.
Defence barrister Martin O’Rourke QC then disclosed correspondence confirming “some of the charges will not be proceeded with”.
Mr O’Rourke also took issue with “the propriety of some of the charges that have been brought”.
Listing the case for a further review next month, Judge Bagnall said the defendant would again be excused from attending.