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Finucane murder accused in court

A loyalist accused of murdering Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 was alleged in the High court today to have admitted shooting him in a conversation recorded by an undercover police officer.

Ken Barrett (40), who was brought back from England last May, applied for bail before Mr Justice Kerr.

Opposing the application, Crown laweyr Gordon Kerr, QC, referred to lengthy conversations recorded in a covert operation while Barret was living in England after fleeing Belfast because of death threats.

Mr Kerr said an undercover officer - known to him as Steve -asked him about the Finucane murder and he said: "It wasn`t the first occasion I done it. It was just that he got so much publicity because he was a republican solicitor.

"He was an IRA man and all that. He was in the media and to be honest Steve he believed he could not be touched.
"He hadn`t really got shot. He got f------- massacred. He was hit 22 times. I have to be honest I whacked a few people in the past. People say to me how do you sleep. I sleep fine."

Mr Kerr said Barret had also souhgt to justify the Finucane killing. It was alleged he said: "Finucane was up to his neck in it," and named persons as being involved in the murder.

Mr Kerr also referred to alleged admissions made by Barret in the BBC Panorama programme "Licence to Murder" for which he received £1,300 for travel and accommodation.

He said Barrett had claimed the go-ahead for the shooting was given after army agent Brian Nelson had passed on a photograph of Mr Finucane.

"We decided he was going down and that`s the end of it," Barrett was alleged to have said.

Mr Kerr said it was soon after the murder of Billy Stobie in 1999 - he had been cleared a few week earlier of the Finucane murder when the case against him collapsed - that a campaign began against Barret accusing him of being an

It was then that he was moved to a safe house in England as his life was under threat.

Barret is also charged with attempted murder, the theft of British army weapons and membership of the UFF.

His lawyer Peter Irvine described the recordings made by undercover police as "intrusive surveillance" and said the alleged admissions would be challenged at Barret`s trial.

He said it was a "sting-type" operation which Barret had gone along with in order to get money.

"The whole scenario is an extremely murky one where these undercover officers were attempting to trap Barrett," said Mr Irvine. He said recent developments at Maghaberry Prison meant that Barret`s life was in greater danger there than in a safe house in England where his wife still lived.

After a short adjournment Mr Justice Kerr refused bail.

He said the Crown`s outline disclosed a strong case against Barrett who would have an incentive to flee the jurisdiction if released. There were also substantial grounds for believing he would commit further offences.

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