Northern Ireland

IRA supergrass Raymond Gilmour found dead at home in Kent

Raymond Gilmour Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Raymond Gilmour's death is not being treated as suspicious

A former supergrass who infiltrated the IRA at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland has been found dead at his home in Kent.

Raymond Gilmour, from Londonderry, was found dead by his son, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

He became an RUC Special Branch informer when he was 17 and was the only witness in a trial of 35 IRA suspects that collapsed in 1984.

Raymond Gilmour lived under an assumed identity for more than 30 years.

It is understood that his death is not being treated as suspicious.

He first joined republican paramilitaries the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in 1976 as a police agent working for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

He then moved to the IRA in 1980 before his cover was blown two years later when police used information supplied by him to recover a machine gun.

He decided to testify against a number of alleged republicans in 1984, but the case collapsed when the then lord chief justice, Lord Lowry, dismissed his evidence, calling it "unworthy of belief".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Protests were held outside Crumlin Road Courthouse when Raymond Gilmour testified

Sir John Hermon, the RUC chief constable at that time, called them "CTs" - converted terrorists. Technically they were "assisting offenders".

But on the streets of the communities they came from, as evidenced by the graffiti on the walls, they were branded "touts" and "supergrasses".

During the early 1980s, people took to the streets to protest at what they called the "show trials".

It was claimed informers were offered cash inducements and that secret deals were struck at a political level, approved by the secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

At that time, the trials held in the now derelict Crumlin Road courthouse in Belfast were the largest in British criminal history.

In one of them in 1983, 22 IRA suspects were jailed for a total of 4,000 years.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption 1984: Defendants charged on the evidence of Raymond Gilmour celebrate outside the courthouse after the case against them was dismissed

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