NI: Loyalist ‘supergrass’ has prison sentence increased on appeal

NI: Loyalist 'supergrass' has prison sentence increased on appeal

A six-and-a-half year prison sentence for a loyalist killer who became a “supergrass” after his arrest has been found unduly lenient by the Court of Appeal.

However, UVF man Gary Haggarty will not return to prison as he was released and placed in a witness protection programme in May 2018, according to reports.

Mr Haggarty, a former police informer, was arrested in August 2009 by arrangement, interviewed and charged in connection with the murder of John Harbinson in May 1997.

After being charged, he indicated a willingness to assist the authorities within the framework provided by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

He entered into an agreement with a specified prosecutor pursuant to section 73 SOPCA in January 2010 and provided information in 1,015 police interviews between 2010 and 2017.

Mr Haggarty pleaded guilty to 202 offences, including five murders, five attempted murders, one count of aiding and abetting murder, 23 counts of conspiracy to murder, various serious offences involving firearms, explosives and punishment beatings and four counts of directing terrorism. He also asked for 301 offences to be taken into account.

In sentencing him, the trial judge imposed an effective tariff of six-and-a-half years, but judges in the Court of Appeal today ruled that was “unduly lenient given the catalogue of infamy and murder of which he was guilty”.

Judges substituted a tariff of 10 years, which “represents a very considerable discount from a 40 year starting point and provides a generous incentive for those who are prepared to assist in combating terrorist violence”.

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