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Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
DNA link to informer shooting
Martin McGartland
Martin McGartland: Shot seven times outside his home
Police investigating the attempted murder last year of a former IRA informer believe they have a DNA profile of one of his attackers.

Martin McGartland was badly wounded when he was shot a number of times by three armed and masked men at his home in Whitley Bay last June.

Detective Superintendent Chris Symonds of Northumbria Police told a news conference in Belfast that a DNA sample taken from the scene could link "a presently unidentified person" to the plot to kill the former Royal Ulster Constabulary special branch agent.

"We have strong forensic evidence in the form of a DNA sample of one of the persons we believe was involved in the crime," he said.

The detective added Mr McGartland was shot with a CZ 9mm semi-automatic, self-loading pistol.

Mr Symonds played a message left on an answering machine by a man suspected of involvement in the attempt to kill Mr McGartland.

He also gave descriptions of three men believed to have been involved in the planning and preparation of the attempt on Mr McGartland's life.


Artist's impression of shooting suspect
Police believe suspect was of trim build
It is thought the suspects, who had Scottish and Irish accents, may have stayed in the Northumbria region for up to 10 days before the shooting.

The first man was described as white, aged 35 to 37, between 5'7" and 5'8" tall, trim, with short, straight, light-coloured hair, and was smartly dressed.

Police said he had the appearance of an office worker and was described as "chatty, a good talker and as having a distinctive Scottish or Irish accent".

The second suspect was white, in his late 20s, five foot 10 to five foot 11, medium built, with dark brown or black hair in a short back and sides style, and "quite fit looking".

He was also described as being clean-shaven and smart in appearance and was "well spoken with an Irish accent".

The third man was white, between 30 and 35 years old, five foot 10 to five foot 11 inches tall, slim with bony shoulders, untidy dark brown collar-length hair and with a "Scottish, possible Glaswegian accent".

IRA discovered 'double-life'

Mr McGartland moved to the north east of England in 1991 after the IRA discovered he was a special branch agent.

In his book, 50 Dead Men Walking, Mr McGartland told how he infiltrated the IRA at the age of 17 and had operated under the code-name Agent Carol between 1988 and 1991.

The Home Office gave Mr McGartland round-the-clock protection following last year's murder attempt.

The police investigator said they were still hopeful that the people behind the assassination attempt on the IRA informer would be caught.

"I remain confident that the crime will be detected," he said. "As in most investigations, we do need assistance from the public."

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