Second arrest for murder of SAS officer 20 years ago

Wednesday 08 March 2000 23.40

Gardaí in Kerry have arrested a second man wanted by the RUC for the murder of an SAS officer in Belfast 20 years ago. He is Paul Dingus Magee, who was given early release from Portlaoise Prison under the Good Friday Agreement. Earlier this year, Angelo Fusco was also arrested in Kerry and his extradition proceedings are now before the High Court in Dublin.

Paul Dingus Magee was arrested in Tralee this morning and brought to Mountjoy Jail in Dublin. He had absconded during an extradition hearing and gardaí say he was detained on an order from the Supreme Court. Mr Magee escaped from Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast in 1981 and his extradition from the Republic was sought to serve a 25-year sentence imposed in his absence for the murder of SAS officer, Captain Herbert Westmacott. Captain Westmacott was killed by an IRA unit using a rapid-fire M60 machinegun. The following year, Paul Magee was arrested in Tralee and sentenced to 10 years in Portlaoise for the Belfast escape, the charges being brought under the cross-border Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act.

In 1991 Paul Magee jumped bail while awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court hearing on an application for his extradition to the North. The following year he turned up in Britain where he was jailed for the murder of a part-time policeman in Yorkshire. In 1998 he was one of the Republican prisoners flown into Dublin's Casement Aerodrome under the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners, to serve his sentence in Portlaoise. Subsequently, he was given early release from Portlaoise under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. However, a Supreme Court order for his arrest was still in existence and gardaí arrested him in Tralee this morning on foot of that order. He is spending tonight in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin and will be taken before the Supreme Court in the morning.

Last January, another man, Angelo Fusco, was also arrested in Kerry on foot of an extradition warrant for the same murder and is now awaiting the outcome of High Court proceedings. As in the case of Angelo Fusco, Magee's arrest will be seen as coming at an awkward time in the peace process.