15 December 2005 Edition

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Special Branch agent centrally involved in murder

It has emerged that the man who drove away the UVF gang after they killed North Belfast woman Sharon McKenna was protected from arrest by his RUC Special Branch handlers.

The 30-year-old Catholic was killed as she made dinner for an elderly Protestant friend at his home on the loyalist Shore Road.

The man, now working as a taxi driver for a depot in South Antrim, was never arrested over the killing for fear he would break under questioning.

McKenna's murderer was also a Special Branch informant, involved in over a dozen killings

The driver's Special Branch handlers repeatedly blocked RUC attempts to arrest him in the weeks following the murder.

A source with intimate knowledge of the case said if the RUC had questioned him, the killing would already be solved. "The Special Branch protected him from arrest because they knew he would crack under questioning."

The Branchman running the informer retired two years ago.

The McKenna family have campaigned to have the killers brought to trial.

Solicitor Kevin Winters said the family are considering a number of issues and are liaising with the Police Ombudsman's office.

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