02 January 2006

The rise and fall of a gun smuggler

Belfast Telegraph

By Ashleigh Wallace
02 January 2006

Lurgan loyalist Lindsay Robb first came to the public's attention as part of a PUP talks team in 1994.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with David Ervine and Billy Hutchinson and other party members, Robb was part of a peace talks team which held negotiations with the British Government in the run-up to the loyalist ceasefire in 1994.

But just months later, he was to grace the headlines again for his role in a plot to smuggle weapons and ammunition to the UVF from Liverpool to Northern Ireland via Scotland.

He and five other men were arrested in July 1995 following a four-day undercover operation involving M15 which spanned from Scotland to Liverpool.

During an 11-day trial which was held in December of that year, the High Court in Glasgow heard about attempts to organise the transfer of the guns from a pub in Liverpool and into the hands of loyalist paramilitaries.

He was found guilty of conspiracy to smuggle arms and was handed a 10-year sentence. At the time of sentencing, Lord Sutherland told the Lurgan loyalist: "For someone who is purporting to take part in the peace process on the one hand and indulge in conspiracy to acquire arms on the other, it is particularly disgraceful."

Following an unsuccessful appeal, he was transferred from Scotland to Maghaberry jail in April 1997 and 10 months later he was moved to the LVF wing.

In January 1999 he became the first LVF prisoner to be released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, having served less than four years of his 10-year sentence.

When released he moved back to Scotland - where he moved to after giving evidence at an IRA murder trial.

In 1993, while still living in Lurgan, Robb gave evidence at the trial of Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, who was accused of murdering UDR man John Lyness.

Robb's evidence was crucial to the Crown as he identified Duffy as a cyclist he saw fleeing the scene of the murder.

Days after Duffy was sentenced and jailed for life, Robb was arrested on suspicion of gun smuggling in Scotland.

The Crown in the Duffy case subsequently dropped Robb when he was convicted of gun smuggling. The conviction against Duffy was later quashed after the republican spent three years in jail.

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