10 February 2006

Loyalist killer dies after long illness

Belfast Telegraph

By Chris Thornton
10 February 2006

A loyalist who took part in a notorious sectarian murder and kidnapped a priest - while serving in the RUC - has died after an illness.

PUP member William McCaughey, who was also jailed for a UVF gun and bomb attack on a pub and was linked to loyalist protests outside a Catholic church in Ballymena, died at his home in Lurgan on Wednesday.

McCaughey, who was the party's North Antrim representative and a member of the PUP executive, was pictured during a protest outside Harryville wearing an Orange Order sash.

He later turned against the protests and helped clean up graffiti at the church. Shortly before his death he complained that unionist politicians had been responsible for luring young men into violence during the Troubles.

The 55-year-old is believed to have been diagnosed with cancer just over a year ago.

McCaughey was a member of the UVF and the RUC's Special Patrol Group at the same time in the mid-Seventies.

In 1978 he was jailed for the murder of William Strathearn, a Catholic shopkeeper, in Ahoghill, Co Antrim, a year earlier. Ahoghill was McCaughey's home village.

The killing became known as the 'Good Samaritan murder', because the UVF gang lured Strathearn, a 39-year-old shopkeeper and father-of-seven, to his front door at 2am by claiming they were seeking aspirin for a sick child. Strathearn was shot twice. He is believed to have been shot by Robin Jackson, the notorious loyalist known as the Jackal.

McCaughey admitted supplying the handgun used in the murder and driving Jackson to the scene. He also admitted shooting and wounding a customer leaving the Rock Bar near Keady, Co Armagh in 1976. A bomb was also left at the door of the pub, but it did not explode.

McCaughey carried out the attack with two other serving RUC officers, one of whom was on duty at the time. The two other policemen received suspended sentences.

It was later found that the guns used in the Rock Bar attack had also been used to murder Co Armagh brothers John, Brian and Anthony Reavey.

McCaughey was also jailed for kidnapping Ahoghill parish priest Father Hugh Murphy in June 1978 with another RUC officer. Fr Murphy, a former Royal Navy chaplain who held an OBE, was kidnapped in response to the IRA abduction of RUC Constable William Turbitt. Constable Turbitt was killed, but Fr Murphy was released.

McCaughey carried out the kidnapping less than two weeks before he went on trial on a bizarre theft charge.

Less than two months after murdering William Strathearn, McCaughey was alleged to have stolen two tables while acting as an RUC bodyguard for UUP MP John Taylor, now Lord Kilclooney. McCaughey and another policeman were accused of taking the tables from the home of Elsie Kelsey, the then mayor of Lisburn, while waiting for Taylor to leave a party.

The trial heard accusations and counter-accusations of drunkenness between the policemen and the partygoers. The jury failed to reach a verdict.

McCaughey was released from prison in 1994. He later joined the PUP, saying he supported the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

McCaughey was a murdering bastard who used his role as a Police Officer to support and assist various loyalist murderers in their sectarian killing campaign against the minority.
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