Ex-Sinn Fein treasurer and his brother jailed for stabbing
A former Sinn Fein treasurer previously charged in connection with murder of Robert McCartney has been sentenced to 14-and-a-half years for the stabbing of another Belfast man.
James 'Dim' McCormick (46) was treasurer for Sinn Fein in south Belfast at the time and was present at the murder of the innocent father-of-one in a Belfast bar in January 2005, the Sunday Independent has learned.
McCormick and his brother, Hugh (50), whose nickname is 'Apple goat', were sentenced last Wednesday for the attempted murder of Joe Henry, at his home in the Markets area of Belfast in July 2011. Hugh McCormick was given a 15-and-a-half year sentence. During the trial, held at Belfast Crown Court in September, the jury heard how Mr Henry was hit over the head and stabbed by the McCormick brothers.
Mr Henry gave evidence he was attacked outside his Eliza Street Terrace home at around 8am as he stood having a cigarette. The victim said Hugh McCormick hit him on the head with a crowbar while James McCormick produced a 12-inch knife which he then stuck in Mr Henry's neck. As a result, Mr Henry lost two litres of blood, required a blood transfusion and remained in hospital for three weeks.
Both men were told that they will serve half the term in prison, with the remainder on supervised licence when they are released from jail.
'Dim' McCormick was brought into Sinn Fein by IRA Army Council member, Gerard 'Jock' Davison, the man who gave the order to a mob to attack Robert McCartney. Davison, who was assassinated last April, was said to have drawn his finger across his throat as he beckoned his gang to attack Mr McCartney.
McCormick held the position of treasurer of Sinn Fein in south Belfast but was, to all intents, an extortionist, local people said. He is not thought to have been a member of the IRA prior to or after his appointment to the party.
Catherine McCartney, Robert's sister, said she was glad the Henry family had been given justice with the sentencing of 'Dim' McCormick, who she described as a 'well-known thug and scumbag...well known for using a knife on people'. "I am glad for the Henrys. I am particularly glad they have got justice and that Joe Henry was able to live and brave enough to give evidence in court," she said.
She said that "Joe survived, which was, I think, a key difference" in the unsuccessful prosecution brought against Jim McCormick in 2008 in her brother's case. Evidence was given in his trial for the murder of Robert McCartney that McCormick's blood was found at the scene after he apparently cut himself but there was deemed to be insufficient evidence to convict and he was acquitted in June 2008.
Local people told the Sunday Independent that 'Dim' McCormick was used by the IRA an extortionist trading on his reputation as a 'knife man'.
In the aftermath of the McCartney murder, as the sisters mounted their international but as yet unsuccessful campaign for justice, McCormick was reportedly 'expelled' from Sinn Fein. However, none of the estimated 70 party members who were in the bar the night Robert McCartney was murdered ever offered any evidence to support a police prosecution.
McCormick's boss in the party, Jock Davison, was shot dead in the Markets area last April apparently after an internal dispute over money. The IRA subsequently blamed another local man, Kevin McGuigan, and shot him dead in August even though it was known it had nothing to do with Davison's murder.
During sentencing last week, Mr Justice Colton said that the continual denial of involvement by the brothers demonstrated a lack of remorse.
"It is particularly chilling that the defendants carried out this assault in broad daylight, on a person whom they knew, and at a place where the other occupants in the house also knew them," he said. "It appears that they felt they could carry out such an assault immune from being held accountable for their crime."
The reason for the attack on Mr Henry was said to have been from personal animus that had existed since the time of the McCartney murder. Local people said Mr Henry had made his views clear on the gang that murdered his friend and this had contributed to the brothers' decision to kill him.
The McCartney family maintains that there was political interference in the investigation into their brother's murder in order to ensure Sinn Fein's entry into government in Northern Ireland and to facilitate the IRA's moves towards a proper ceasefire and the 'decommissioning' of its arsenal. The sisters' campaign was directly responsible for embarrassing the Sinn Fein leadership into accepting concessions including the recognition of the PSNI.