We met Haggarty sentence appeal deadline, says PPS

Gary Haggarty was sentenced to six-and-a-half years
Gary Haggarty was sentenced to six-and-a-half years

The Public Prosecution Service has refuted claims that it missed a legal deadline for lodging its challenge to the sentence handed out to loyalist supergrass Gary Haggarty.

UVF chief Haggarty was jailed for six-and-a-half-years for more than 200 terror offences, including five murders.

His sentence was part of a controversial state deal that offered a significantly reduced prison term in return for giving evidence against other terrorist suspects.

The PPS announced on Monday it was appealing the sentence on the grounds it was unduly lenient.

But the BBC has reported that the appeal may not go ahead, claiming the 60-page PPS submission was lodged after a 28-day deadline to appeal the tariff elapsed.

The court service closes at 4pm, but the BBC says the papers were not served until 4.25pm on Monday.

A solicitor representing Haggarty told the broadcaster he had challenged the legal basis of the appeal.

“Upon notification that the application was apparently lodged a full 25 minutes after close of business, we queried with Court Service whether in fact a proper and fully compliant appeal had been lodged in this case,” said Ciaran Shiels.

“We have been advised that the lord chief justice is to convene the Court of Criminal Appeal on March 9 to consider whether there has been proper compliance with the statutory requirements in respect of this case.”

A PPS spokesperson told the News Letter: “I can confirm an issue has arisen as to whether notice to seek leave to refer the sentence imposed on Gary Haggarty to the Court of Appeal was served in time. It is the PPS position that the statutory time limit has been met.”