IRA gunman gets life for PC's murder: Judge says killing 'plumbs very depths of the abyss' of human wickedness. Terry Kirby reports

Terry Kirby
Tuesday 30 March 1993 23:02
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AN OLD BAILEY judge and the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire expressed surprise yesterday that an Irish court had bailed Paul Magee, an IRA killer who went on the run and murdered a special constable in North Yorkshire last year.

On Monday, Magee, 45, from Belfast, was convicted of the murder of Constable Glenn Goodman, who was shot twice as he made a routine check on Magee and another man on the York to Leeds road in North Yorkshire. He was also convicted of the attempted murders of three other officers.

Sentencing him to life, with a recommendation that he serves a minimum of 30 years, Mr Justice Laws said: 'This crime plumbs the very depths of the abyss into which it is possible for the human spirit to sink.'

Magee was also given life for the attempted murders of PC Sandy Kelly, who survived four bullets, and PCs Mark Whitehouse and Susan Larkin, who both came under repeated gunfire when they chased the men. The judge recommended he serve at least 25 years in each case. He described the attack on PC Kelly as 'one of the worst examples of attempted murder it is possible to encounter'.

During the two-week trial there had been no mention of the IRA. Police have been unable to establish what Magee and the other man, Michael O'Brien, were planning in the area.

Magee had been granted bail by the Irish courts in February 1991; he disappeared in autumn 1991, when his challenge over moves to extradite him to Ulster to serve a 25-year sentence for the 1981 murder of an SAS officer looked set to fail. After being told that Magee had been granted bail on his own surety of IR pounds 100, Mr Justice Laws asked by which court and was told the Irish Supreme Court.

Speaking at a press conference afterwards, David Burke, the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, said he regretted that the Irish courts had freed Magee. 'I don't know the evidence on which the court made the judgment. It may be, had they taken a different view, things would have turned out differently. I would not have thought he would have been freed on bail by an English court.'

When Magee left the dock, he raised his arms and made a V for victory sign; Margaret Goodman, the mother of the police officer, shouted from the gallery: 'Murderers, you killed my son.'

O'Brien, 32, was jailed for 18 years for the attempted murders of PC Whitehouse and PC Larkin; on Monday, he was cleared of murder and the attempted murder of PC Kelly. Magee was jailed for 15 years for possessing firearms with intent to endanger life and O'Brien for 10 years for the same offence.

O'Brien, who admitted being the driver but denied firing any shots, was sentenced after the judge heard Michael Mansfield QC, his counsel, tell the court that his client was 'appalled' by what had happened.

(Photograph omitted)

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