Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

UDA boss Tommy English murder accused to be prosecuted

Tommy English
Tommy English was shot dead in Newtownabbey in October 2000

A decision has been taken to press ahead with the prosecution of men charged with murdering loyalist paramilitary chief Tommy English.

A court was told preliminary enquiry papers are now being prepared.

DPP lawyers were granted extra time to finalise "one of the most complicated files" it has received in years.

The development was disclosed to Belfast Magistrates Court during a hearing for six of 11 men charged in connection with killing.

English, a high-ranking Ulster Defence Association member, was shot dead at his Newtownabbey home in October 2000.

His murder was part of a loyalist paramilitary feud which claimed four lives in five days.

The case against the murder suspects depends heavily on so-called supergrass evidence set to be given by two UVF brothers.

Newtownabbey men David Stewart, of Carntall Rise, and Robert Stewart, 39, from Ballyearl Court, have admitted aiding and abetting in the murder of English.

They are also awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to more than 70 other offences spanning a 13-year period.

Delay

Amid continuing criticism from defence representatives at the length of time being taken over the case, a Public Prosecution Service lawyer told the court that advice from Crown counsel had been received last week.

"The decision has been taken to prosecute in respect of the murder of Tommy English. All of those present before the court will prosecuted in that regard," he said.

The lawyer requested more time so that papers could be tied up with those of another accused, former top loyalist and alleged police informer Mark Haddock.

He detailed the large scale of documentation involved and number of copies needed.

But a barrister for one of the defendants, challenged the complexity of the case and questioned the reason for any further delay.

"Because of, it seems, the voluminous nature of the papers that is what is going to hold matters up," he said.

"The prosecution should devote more resources and get a few clerks in to photocopy them. It's not acceptable."

It was stressed, however, that directions were still being finalised.

A preliminary enquiry hearing in the case is now due to proceed next month.



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