Faces of the terrorists and the criminal who didn't get away

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The Independent Online
The six men who attempted the Whitemoor break-out include some of the most notorious terrorists in mainland prisons. Between them they are responsible for a series of bloody murders, ambitious bomb plots involving huge amounts of explosives, and daring attempts to escape from custody.

Peter Sherry

Sherry, 39, was one of a five-strong team of Provisional IRA members all jailed for life in 1986 for an offensive in London and at 12 seaside resorts a year earlier. Sherry played a low-key role in the London and seaside conspiracy. He was also said to have been involved in a planned escape with Gilbert McNamee from Parkhurst jail on the Isle of Wight last year.

Sherry inadvertently led police to his co-conspirators. An undercover surveillance team followed him from his home in Co Tyrone to the Glasgow hotel where they were arrested. Although of minor rank in the IRA, he is a fanatical republican. As he was led from the dock after his conviction, he shouted to the court: 'The British are responsible.' The judge had told him: 'You are, and you will remain, a danger to the public for some time.'

Gilbert McNamee

McNamee, 31, has been identified as one of the IRA's most skilled bomb-makers, with a part in many of the major campaigns of the Eighties. His crimes include making the device that killed four Household Cavalry soldiers in the 1982 Hyde Park explosion, for which he was sentenced to 25 years in prison seven years ago. He is also thought to have been involved in 19 other deaths, including the six victims of the 1983 Harrods bomb.

Originally from Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, McNamee left school with 11 O- levels and three A-levels before reading physics at Queen's University, Belfast. His father and two cousins were killed by terrorist bombs. McNamee claimed in two trials that the losses had made him a staunch opponent of violence. The defence succeeded in the first, in Dublin, but failed in London.

Liam McCotter

McCotter, 31, is serving 17 years for conspiracy to cause explosions. He too was caught in possession of a massive amount of arms and explosives. The haul, hidden in two Cheshire forests, included 190lb of Semtex from Libya. Detectives believed the IRA planned to target politicians in the 1987 general election and attack Mark Thatcher's wedding. His staunch republican relatives include his uncle, Seamus Toomey, a former IRA commander, and brother Patrick, serving 20 years for involvement in a gun battle with police.

Liam O Dhuibhuir

O Dhuibhuir, 32, was convicted four years ago of conspiring to cause explosions and sentenced to 30 years' jail. He and a co-defendant were caught hiding a huge arms cache, including guns, hand-grenades and Semtex at St Bride's Bay, West Wales. A report to the Director of Public Prosecutions also linked him to the Deal barracks bombing in 1989 which killed 11 Army bandsmen, but there was insufficient evidence. Although a staunch IRA activist, he had served five years for kidnapping a Sinn Fein member in Dublin.

Andrew Russell

Russell, 32, is the only non-IRA member of the escape gang. He is notorious for helping two prisoners to escape from Gartree Prison, Leicestershire, in December 1987, after hijacking a helicopter. Russell forced it to land on a football pitch while prisoners were exercising. Sydney Draper, a convicted murderer, and John Kendall, a London gangster, climbed aboard and were flown to freedom. Russell, arrested less than two months later, was jailed for 10 years in 1989 for his part in the escape. Both absconders were also caught.

Paul Magee

Magee, 46, has a similar IRA pedigree to his namesake Patrick, the Brighton bomber whose transfer to the Maze Prison two weeks ago sparked a huge outcry. Paul Magee is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Glenn Goodman, a special constable with the West Yorkshire police force who was shot dead after he stopped Magee for a routine check on the road between York and Leeds. Magee, on the run at the time of the killing, also attempted to shoot three other officers.

He was first jailed in 1971, when he was convicted of firearms offences. Ten years later, he escaped from prison in Belfast three days before the end of a trial in which he was accused of having shot an SAS officer. He was convicted in his absence, and later detained, but escaped again, killing Mr Goodman while at large.

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