10 November 2005

Victims' campaigner receives new UVF death threats

Daily Ireland

Raymond McCord says that he won’t be intimidated after being warned by the PSNI that paramilitaries planned to murder him if he didn’t stay away from trial at Belfast Courthouse

Ciaran Barnes

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The PSNI warned a victims’ campaigner to stay away from the trial of a leading loyalist over fears the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) would kill him coming out of the court house.
Raymond McCord has been a regular visitor to the public gallery since the trial of Mark Haddock, Darren Moore, Alexander Wood, James Loughlin and William Loughlin began on Monday.
Haddock and Moore are accused of attempting to murder night-club bouncer Trevor Gowdy in December 2002, falsely imprisoning him and setting fire to his car.
Wood and the Loughlin brothers are charged with conspiracy to assault Mr Gowdy and causing him actual bodily harm.
When Mr McCord arrived in Belfast crown court he was warned by the PSNI that the UVF was planning to kill him when he left, on the eight anniversary of his son’s death.
Raymond McCord junior, 22, was murdered by the UVF on 9 November 1997.
Since his death Mr McCord has been a constant critic of the paramilitary organisation.
In the Dáil two weeks ago Labour leader Pat Rabbitte named Mark Haddock as the UVF commander who gave the order to kill Mr McCord junior.
He also claimed Haddock was a RUC Special Branch informer whose role allowed him to escape prosecution despite involvement in eight murders.
Mr McCord told Daily Ireland that despite the threats he would continue to come to court every day to witness Haddock’s trial. He said: “The UVF will not frighten me into not coming to court.
“I have had more than 20 death threats since I started my campaign for justice. I am determined that the my family and the families of those targeted by the UVF get justice.”
The trial of Haddock, Moore, Wood and the Loughlin brothers is expected to last two weeks.
The man they are alleged to have attacked, Trevor Gowdy, took the stand yesterday to give evidence against them.
He has been in hiding under the witness protection programme since being attacked three years ago.
Recalling the incident Mr Gowdy told the court that on 20 December 2002 Moore and a third man called at his home to tell him that Haddock wanted to speak to him, and that he was to go with them to a social club in the Monkstown area of north Belfast.
Mr Gowdy refused, but drove himself to the premises. He said that when he arrived at the club Haddock accused him of hitting two of his men. Mr Gowdy described how he was then attacked by Haddock, Moore and the third man.
He said that Haddock shouted at him “that if he had got me on Thursday night I’d be hanging from a tree”.
Mr Gowdy was then subjected to a series of violent assaults. He said he was struck by Haddock with a baton or crow bar, and by the third man with a hatchet.
He alleged that he was then bundled into the boot of his car and stabbed with a knife by Moore before he was able to escape from the boot.
Mr Gowdy said his attackers then fled from the scene.
The trial continues.

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