Mark Haddock

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Mark Haddock (born in 1968) is a loyalist paramilitary leader in Northern Ireland, and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch informer, who has been named by various sources in connection with more than twenty-one murders. He is a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),[1] and was that organisation's north Belfast commander before his arrest by police in 2005.

Early years[edit]

Mark Haddock was born and raised in the Mount Vernon estate, a working-class housing development in north Belfast dominated by the influence of the UVF. He was educated at Lowwood Primary School (1973-1980), and Dunlambert Secondary School for Boys (1980-1985).[citation needed]

Mount Vernon UVF[edit]

UVF mural on Mount Vernon estate, visible from the Shore Road, Belfast

As leader of the UVF in Mount Vernon Haddock presided over one of the organisations most active units in the latter stages of the Troubles. However, although he was frequently discussed in the Sunday World by Martin O'Hagan he was never referred to by name until 20 August 2003 when his pictured appeared on the front cover of the Belfast Telegraph alongside a story identifying him as the head of the Mount Vernon UVF.[2] In October 2005, the Irish Labour TD Pat Rabbitte, using Dáil privilege, named Haddock as an RUC Special Branch agent and as responsible for the murders of Sharon McKenna in 1993, Catholic builders Gary Convie and Eamon Fox in 1994, the alleged informer Thomas Sheppard in 1996, Protestant clergyman Rev David J. Templeton in 1997, Billy Harbinson in 1997, Raymond McCord Jnr in 1997, former UDA commander Tommy English in 2000, and David Greer in 2000.[3] The claim that Haddock was an informer with a Special Branch "handler" was also made by the Sunday World,[2] campaigner Raymond McCord,[2] the Belfast Telegraph,[4][5] the Independent[6] and Ulster Television.[7]

Trevor Gowdy attack[edit]

Pub doorman Trevor Gowdy was attacked at a social club in Monkstown in December 2002 following an earlier confrontation with members of Haddock's group at a bar in Ballyclare. He was hit on the head and body with an iron bar, a hatchet and a bat, and suffered an "open" fractured skull and broken leg as well as various cuts and bruises. Police found him lying unconscious on the ground.[8] Haddock was subsequently charged with the attempted murder of Gowdy. However on Friday, 29 September 2006, Haddock was cleared of Gowdy's attempted murder and found guilty of false imprisonment and "grievous bodily harm with intent". On Monday, 20 November 2006, Haddock was jailed for ten years for his part in the attack.[1]

On Tuesday 30 May 2006, while on bail for the attempted murder of Gowdy, Haddock was shot six times while travelling in Newtownabbey, to the north of Belfast.[9] Ronald Trevor Bowe, 29, from Mount Vernon Gardens, Belfast, was arrested and charged for Haddock's attempted murder.[10] He was subsequently released on 22 November 2006 after Haddock indicated he did not wish to pursue a case against him.[11]

Historical Enquires Team trial[edit]

Graffiti against the Historical Enquires Team on Haddock's native Mount Vernon estate

In January 2009 he was charged in connection with the murder of Tommy English.[12][13] Haddock was taken back into custody on 2 September 2011 as he prepared to face charges for the murder.[14]

On 21 July 2009 Haddock was arrested by officers from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET). He was to be questioned about the murders of John Harbinson in May 1997, Gary Convie and Eamon Fox in May 1994 and Sharon McKenna in January 1993, as well as a number of assaults and a shooting.[15] The following day he Haddock was charged with the murder of a 39-year-old man in 1997. Haddock was slated to appear in court in Belfast on 23 July 2009 accused of killing John Harbinson. The Protestant was beaten to death in the Mount Vernon estate where Haddock’s notorious gang wielded power.[16]

The HET trial ended in February 2012 when Haddock and all but one of his co-defendants were acquitted of the charges brought against them. The judge called into question the evidence provided by Robert and Ian Stewart, two brothers who were members of the Mount Vernon UVF before turning "supergrass", denouncing them for their "bad character" and fabrication of evidence.[17] Separate charges against Haddock for the murder of John Harbinson remained outstanding until 5 December 2012 when the Public Prosecution Service withdrew their case. This however was on a "without prejudice" basis, allowing the police to continue their investigations and also allowing for the possibility of future charges against Haddock.[18]