24 May 2006

Finucane killer 'still a threat'

BBC


Ken Barrett was told he would spend at least 22 years in jail

One of the police officers who helped convict the murderer of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane has said he continues to live in fear of the killer.

Ken Barrett was given a life sentence for the murder in 2004 and was told he would spend at least 22 years in jail.

He was released from Maghaberry prison on Tuesday after having served almost three years in jail.

Retired CID officer Trevor McIlwrath said Barrett had threatened to kill him and his ex-colleague Johnston Brown.

"Ken Barrett is a dangerous, dangerous man who has threatened to kill Detective Sergeant Brown and myself," he said.

"That is a life sentence he has given us for the rest of our lives.

"We will be under threat from Ken Barrett and people like him who have been released into the community."

Early release

It is understood Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain opposed Barrett's release, but the Sentence Review Commission found in his favour.

The three-day hearing took place at Maghaberry last week to decide whether Barrett should be freed.

The commissioners had to assess whether he still had any connection to loyalist paramilitaries, and whether he posed a threat to the public.

As a prisoner in England, he did not qualify for early release under the Good Friday Agreement.

However, this changed when he was transferred to Maghaberry prison in February 2005, and he became eligible for early release.

it is understood Barrett left Northern Ireland shortly after being released from jail.

Pat Finucane was shot dead by the UDA in 1989 at his north Belfast home in front of his wife and family.

It was one of the most controversial murders of the Troubles, with allegations that members of the security forces colluded with loyalists.

The Finucane family is unhappy with an inquiry which is being set up to examine the murder.

They say that it will not be able to establish the truth as it is being held under the Inquiries Act.

Revelations that loyalists who were security force agents had been involved in the killing led to allegations of collusion.

Barrett featured in a BBC Panorama investigation into the killing, during which he was secretly filmed talking about his role in the murder.

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