Loyalist's home being auctioned

Johnston's luxury home is being put up for auction

The home of a murdered loyalist paramilitary leader and drug dealer seized by the Assets Recovery Agency is being put up for auction.

In September, the agency was granted a High Court order to seize Jim Johnston's cash and property assets worth more than £1m.

Johnston, 45, a member of the loyalist paramilitary Red Hand Commando, was shot dead in the driveway of his home in Crawfordsburn, County Down, in May 2003.

The revenge killing was part of a bitter feud between rival loyalist factions.

The auction of the house on Wednesday is the first public sale of a criminal's property by the Assets Recovery Agency.

Crime fighting initiatives

It was the first civil recovery order in the UK to exceed £1m.

The agency said at the time that the proceeds would be put back into crime fighting initiatives.

Similar sales in the Republic of Ireland have been carried out in the crackdown against organised crime.

The Assets Recovery Agency, which began work last year, is modelled on the Republic of Ireland's Criminal Assets Bureau, which was set up in 1996 after the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin.

The agency investigates dirty money - from prostitution to protection rackets.

If it can convince a court that someone is enjoying a lifestyle which they cannot possibly have earned legally, a judge can order their possessions to be confiscated and sold.

A 39-year-old man, Robert Young, is awaiting trial. He denies murdering Johnston.

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