A leading loyalist paramilitary who was alleged to have avoided prosecution for a string of murders in Belfast because he was a police agent, has been shot.
Mark Haddock, 36, suffered multiple injuries after being shot in an area north of Belfast yesterday.
His former associates in the Ulster Volunteer Force, a loyalist terror group, are the chief suspects in what police are treating as a murder attempt.
Mr Haddock has been on trial on attempted murder charges. He was out on bail while a judge considered the case following an attack on a nightclub doorman.
Mr Haddock is also at the centre of a two-year investigation into his links with the security forces, which is the biggest inquiry ever mounted by Nuala O'Loan, the Police Ombudsman.
At the centre of the investigation are claims that agents operating on behalf of the Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch were involved in a series of murders linked to the UVF.
Mr Haddock's alleged murder spree stretched from 1993 to late 2000, during which time he was reported also to be a paid informant of the RUC special branch.
Just before 4pm, Mr Haddock was shot close to the house where he had moved after being released on bail in Newtownabbey.
The burly loyalist had once controlled the Mount Vernon estate, a UVF stronghold in north Belfast.
He had been living in fear for months after many of his closest allies turned against him. After the shooting he was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for treatment.Reuse content