Sunday 30 April 2017

'Trick or treat' Greysteel murderer is released again

Jeananne Craig

THE decision to release loyalist killer Torrens Knight from prison is an affront to democracy and has sent shockwaves through society, a Northern Ireland assemblyman said yesterday.

Knight was found guilty of 12 murders during the Troubles, including those of eight people in the 1993 Greysteel massacre. He was a member of a three-man Ulster Freedom Fighters gang that burst into the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel village, Co Derry, on Halloween 1993.

They opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle and an automatic pistol, killing eight customers and wounding 13.

The killings are always associated with the chilling "trick or treat" phrase that was shouted by one of the gunmen before they started shooting.

The UFF claimed that the attack was revenge for an IRA bomb on the Shankill Road seven days earlier, which killed nine people.

Knight, who was released early on licence in 2000 but put back behind bars last year for attacking two sisters in a bar, is now free again, following a decision by the Sentence Review Commission.

East Derry SDLP assembly member John Dallat claimed that Knight had been treated with kid gloves.

"The damage done to democracy by this decision is horrendous and it will take a great deal to convince people that Torrens Knight should be back in the community," he said.

"When the wider community gave their consent to the early-release scheme, they did so on the understanding that anyone who broke the terms would be back in jail to serve the rest of their sentences.

"Most have stuck to those terms -- but Knight hasn't and people wonder why he has got away with it."

As well as Greysteel, Knight had also been convicted of the terrorist murders of four Catholic builders in the nearby town of Castlerock earlier that year.

Having served seven years in prison, he was released in 2000 under the Good Friday Agreement.

However, he was locked up again last year after a judge found him guilty of punching Caroline Nicholl to the ground and kicking her, before turning his fists on her sister Rosemary Sutherland in the Blackthorn bar in Coleraine, Co Derry.

Mr Dallat said local people were shocked and bewildered by the commission's decision to release Knight for a second time.

"One of the most difficult things I have had to do was to ring the two sisters he savagely beat up in Coleraine because I was certain they had not been told -- and, of course, they hadn't," he added.

"Not even the police officer who dealt with the case knew he was on his way home to resume residence within one mile of one of the sisters he had beaten up."

A spokesman for the Sentence Review Commission said it did not comment on individual cases.

Sunday Independent

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