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Wednesday, June 9, 1999 Published at 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK


Sectarian murderer jailed for life

The scene of the murder of Bernadette Martin in Aghalee, Co Antrim

A loyalist paramilitary swore at a judge who jailed him for life for the sectarian slaying of a Catholic teenager.

Trevor McKeown, 37, was convicted of killing 18-year-old Bernadette Martin, who was shot in bed at her Protestant boyfriend's home in Aghalee, County Antrim in July 1997.

Although he was not convicted of membership of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), he will be eligible to apply for early release next summer.

Ms Martin, who lived in Craigavon, County Armagh, was shot four times in the head while she lay sleeping in bed in the home of her Protestant boyfriend, Gordon Green, in Aghalee.

[ image: Bernadette Martin was shot four times in the head while she slept]
Bernadette Martin was shot four times in the head while she slept
Lord Justice McCollum said McKeown's failure to give evidence on his own behalf during the trial justified the inference that he was incapable of giving an innocent explanation for the circumstances which brought him before the court.

'Despicable crime'

He said McKeown had used the knowledge gained through the friendship and hospitality of the Greenes to commit a despicable crime.

The judge, Lord Justice McCollum, ordered prison staff to remove McKeown, whose brother Clifford is a former loyalist "supergrass", from the dock of Belfast Crown Court as the defendant swore at him.

Lord Justice McCollum also found McKeown guilty of possessing the .22 Spanish Star pistol used to murder Ms Martin. It was the same gun used in July 1996, to murder Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick.

Mr McGoldrick was killed near Portadown at the height of the Drumcree standoff.

Loyalist renegades

That killing was believed to be ordered by Billy "King Rat" Wright, who formed the LVF shortly after, having been expelled from the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Wright was assassinated by two INLA men in December 1997 while on remand in the Maze prison.

The LVF is now on ceasefire and its members are entitled to early release under the Good Friday Agreement.

It is understood that although McKeown was not convicted of LVF membership he will be eligible for early release because the gun he used was used in earlier LVF killing.

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