A high profile court case involving so-called ‘loyalist supergrass’ Gary Haggarty has been postponed until the middle of next year.
Haggarty is facing an unprecented 202 charges - including five murders, five attempted murders and 66 firearms offences - linked to UVF activity in the 1990s and 2000s.
The 44-year old former tyre fitter, whose address in court was given as c/o PSNI Knocknagoney, did not appear at Belfast Crown Court today, where his legal team launched an application to postpone his arraignment.
Haggary was due to be arraigned this month on over 200 terrorist-related offences spanning a period of 16 years, including directing the activities of the UVF in south-east Antrim, as well as being a member of the outlawed organisation.
The charges were due to be formally put to Haggarty for the first time in a Crown Court, and his plea was due to be entered.
However, defence barrister Martin O’Rourke QC asked that the arraignment be postponed until after Easter next year, to allow full consideration of the charges and papers involved in the case.
Telling the court Haggarty faces a number of series charges including multiple murders, 25 charges of conspiracy to murder and “a myriad of other offences”, Mr O’Rourke revealed there were thousands of papers to consider.
“The interviews of the defendant alone amount to 1,100 interviews over a period of four years”, he told the court.
Making the application to Mr Justice Treacy, Mr O’Rourke branded the case as “unique” and said: “All of the charges and papers in this case have to be carefully considered before he (Haggarty) is put on his plea so that defence can advise accordingly.
“We request that the court not arraign him next Friday to give the defence adequate time to consider the matters.”
Whilst it emerged that the Crown would not be opposing the application to adjourn the arraignment until after Easter next year, prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC said it would, however, be “prudent” to review the case next February.
Mr Justice Treacy listed the arraignment to take next April, following a review on February 3, 2017.