04 May 2006

Woman sells home to pay off dead husband's assets recovery bill


04/05/2006 - 10:46:23

The ex-wife of a murdered loyalist paramilitary leader has sold her home in the North in order to pay £35,000 (€51,000) to the Assets Recovery Agency, it announced today.

The money is in addition to £200,000 (€292,000) already recovered by the agency from the estate of Stephen Warnock.

Warnock, 35, a leader in the Loyalist Volunteer Force splinter group, was shot dead in September 2002 during an inter-loyalist feud.

The Agency said it had gathered evidence that the £35,000 (€51,000) was the proceeds of Warnock's criminal activities and had indirectly enabled Mrs Warnock to buy the house she was living in.

The ARA said it identified the money from the large-scale drug trafficking Warnock had been engaged in prior to his death. They said he had become a major supplier of both cannabis and ecstasy.

Mrs Warnock settled her case with the ARA in February at the High Court in Belfast when she agreed to pay the agency the £35,000 (€51,000).

A cheque for the money had now been received from her solicitor, said the ARA, and this had concluded its case against the property of the late Mr Warnock.

Warnock was delivering his three-year-old daughter to school in Newtownards, Co Down, when he was murdered.

The little girl escaped injury when a gunman on a motorcycle pulled up alongside her father’s car and fired 15 shots into it.

Following the final settlement of the case against Mrs Warnock, ARA deputy director Alan McQuillan said: “Accepting money as a gift from those who have obtained it by criminal means is a risky business. The agency was set up to go after such money and we will do that to the best of our ability.”

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