Sunday Life

Cops save jail boss from murder gang

By Alan Murray

18 January 2004
A PRISON governor was dramatically evacuated from his home, last week, amid fears that a UDA gang was on its way to kill him.

The governor was the man loyalist claim ordered the removal of a sentry from a tower overlooking the Maze prison courtyard, where LVF leader, Billy Wright, was shot dead.

The 45-year-old senior officer was hurriedly placed in a police car, outside his house, on the outskirts of south Belfast, 10 days ago, after information was received that loyalists planned to assassinate him.

It is believed the attack was intended to be the UDA's 'big hit' against the Prison Service, following a statement read by masked men before TV cameras days earlier.

"He literally didn't have time to pack a bag of clothes," a colleague said.

"It was virtually a case of, 'we're the police, you need to get into that car now, we've to get you out of here pronto'."

A spokesman for the Prison Service confirmed that a governor was moved from his home in recent days, because of a loyalist threat to kill him.

It is believed police had received vital intelligence information, that the UDA and the LVF had agreed to mount a joint operation to kill the governor that evening, at his home, where it's understood he lived alone.

"They were insistent that he left that night, not the next morning or in an hours time even, so they must have received a late tip-off that the gunmen were literally on their way to his house," a Prison Service source said.

Loyalists have previously claimed that the senior officer was the duty governor, in charge on the day Billy Wright was gunned down inside the Maze Prison by INLA inmates, in December, 1997.

Wright was shot dead in the exercise yard of H-Block 6 as he sat in a prison van, waiting to be driven to a rare Saturday morning visit.

No explanation was given, at the inquest into Wright's death, why the tower was left unmanned that particular morning.

H6 was the only H-Block shared by deadly enemies in the LVF and the INLA, and the tower was normally manned around the clock.

A governor who gave the order for the sentry to be stood down did not give evidence at Wright's inquest, and it is not known if he was made available to speak to retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory, who has recommended an inquiry into Wright's murder.

The name of a governor, who allegedly gave the order, has appeared on websites linked to the illegal LVF.

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