Greysteel massacre: The four loyalists responsible for one of worst atrocities of Troubles

Four loyalists were given life sentences in 1995 for the Greysteel massacre, one of the most heinous atrocities of the Troubles.

The gunmen were Torrens Knight, Stephen Irwin, and Jeffrey Deeney.

PACEMAKER BELFAST    ARCHIVE'GREYSTEEL MURDERER TORRENS KNIGHT.'In March 1993 he murdered four Catholic workmen at Castlerock in Co Derry.

PACEMAKER BELFAST ARCHIVE'GREYSTEEL MURDERER TORRENS KNIGHT.'In March 1993 he murdered four Catholic workmen at Castlerock in Co Derry.

A fourth man, Brian McNeill, who had helped take the three gunmen to and from the scene of the attack, was also convicted for his role in the slaughter.

All four would be released in 2000 under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

Knight’s snarling image as he screamed abuse while being led away from Limavady courthouse, dressed in a suit with a poppy pinned to his lapel, became an iconic image of the heightened savagery of the Troubles at that time.

He was also sentenced for his part in an attack seven months earlier in Castlerock in which four Catholic workmen, including an IRA man, were shot dead.

Jeffrey Deaney

Jeffrey Deaney

In 2009 he was returned to prison and had his licence suspended after being found guilty of assaulting two women in a bar in Coleraine.

He was released again the following year, and has since claimed to have become a born-again Christian.

He wasn’t the only one of the Greysteel killers to find himself returned to prison years after the early release.

Stephen Irwin, who had been the first gunman to enter the Rising Sun on October 30, 25 years ago, was jailed again in 2005 after a knife attack on a football fan at an Irish Cup final.

He was told at that time that he would serve his full sentence for the Greysteel massacre.

But he submitted an application to the Sentence Review Commissioners for early release and in 2012, just weeks before the 20th anniversary of the killings, he walked free as his application was granted.

The release of the gunmen proved controversial, both in 2000 under the Good Friday Agreement and again following the further offences by Knight and Irwin.