Evidence from a loyalist supergrass was used to charge a man with the murders of two Catholic workmen 20 years ago, a court heard on Friday.
James Smyth’s lawyer claimed the case against him is based on information supplied by Gary Haggarty.
Smyth, 48, is accused of the double killing of Gary Convie and Eamon Fox in north Belfast in May 1994. He was detained by detectives investigating a campaign of murder and serious crime committed by the Ulster Volunteer Force.
Mr Convie, 24, and Mr Fox, 44, from Maghery were gunned down as they sat in a car at North Queen Street.
Smyth, from Forthriver Link, Belfast, faces further charges of attempting to murder a third man, Donal Laverty, in the same attack and possessing a Sten submachine gun and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
He was refused bail at Belfast Magistrates’ Court due to the risk of interference with witnesses in the case. Friends and supporters of the defendant packed the public gallery as he was led into the dock.
Smyth pleaded not guilty to all charges. It emerged during the hearing that he had been a life sentence prisoner released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement 14 years ago.
A detective sergeant said the defendant’s DNA was the major profile found on a coat the gunman is believed to have worn. A similar match was also recovered from a woollen hat allegedly connected to the investigation, the court heard.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer John Greer, the detective confirmed other profiles had been retrieved as well. Returning to Haggarty’s role in the investigation, he claimed the former loyalist has a history of involvement in murder and dishonesty.
Mr Greer produced a document which he alleged “clearly shows police agents or informers were involved in the murder plot”. He added, “They had told their handlers of the presence of these guns in their possession. Police did nothing about that.”
Smyth was remanded in custody to appear again by video-link next month.