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EXCLUSIVE: TORRENS KNIGHT - I have changed. Leave me alone.

GREYSTEEL killer Torrens Knight has accused nationalist politicians of waging a hate campaign against him since his release from prison.

The man convicted of 12 murders including those at Greysteel and Castlerock in the 1990s spoke exclusively to The Coleraine Times to challenge the politicians to "get off my back please".

The Coleraine man, who served seven years out of eight life sentences for the murder of four Catholic workmen at Castlerock and the "Trick of Treat" Greysteel massacre in 1993, approached this newspaper to explain that he has distanced himself from paramilitaries and wants to get on with his life.

"I have changed," he said. "I have moved away from paramilitaries. Yes, I am an ex-terrorist but there are plenty of other ex-prisoners out there also.

"Why can they not leave me alone? I have done my time and I have let go of my hatred. It's been eight years (since Knight's release from jail under the Good Friday Agreement] and I have bothered nobody.

"I am just trying to get on with my life."

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Knight singled out Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard and SDLP MLA John Dallat as carrying out what he described as a "hate campaign" against him.

"There has been a hate campaign against me since I came out of prison. I have kept my head down and tried not to get into it but I am fed up with it.

"Yes, I did what I did. I can't change the past but what's the difference between me and Gerry Kelly, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness? They are all ex-paramilitaries and are now in government but you never hear Billy Leonard complaining about them.

"They expect the Unionist and Loyalist people to accept them in the government but us Loyalists can't do anything."

Knight's candid interview with this newspaper came the week after claims were made in the media that he was a member of Kilrea Apprentice Boys.

Cllr Billy Leonard claimed that Knight had been spotted laying a wreath at Kilrea War Memorial with the local Apprentice Boys.

This was categorically denied by both the Apprentice Boys and Knight himself.

"I am not in the Apprentice Boys but if I was, is it such a big deal when Martin McGuinness and others are in the government of this country?

"They portray themselves as men of peace but they don't seem to want to let go of the past. Are they are the ones with the problem?

"I have changed. I have grown up a lot since back then. I have moved away from paramilitaries.

"In prison I had a lot of time to reflect and I try to look at other people's perspectives now. I know some people would be happier to see the likes of me spend the rest of our lives in prison but we have all made mistakes and I can understand that but I was let out early by the government and I just have to try and get on with my life.

"I could have come out of prison and got involved in paramilitaries again or gone down the road of criminality but I chose not to. So why can't they get off my back?"

Knight accused nationalist politicians of using him to score points against each other and against the British government and loyalism.

He also urged politicians to think of the families of those murdered in the Troubles.

"It's not fair of these politicians to talk about fighting for the victims' families because all this can't be helping the victims' families.

"Those people must want to forget about the likes of me. It must be hard enough for all the victims' families living without their loved ones without being reminded on a regular basis every time Dallat or Leonard bring up my name.

"Yes I was a terrorist but so was Martin McGuinness and now he's running the country. It's totally hypocritical. They have double standards.

"I was a man of war but now I want peace to work. But a fair peace. Some nationalist and republican politicians come across as not wanting a fair peace, they just want to score points against the British government and loyalists.

"That won't build confidence in the Unionist community. They expect us to accept ex-terrorists like Gerry Kelly and Martin McGuinness in government but yet they keep picking on me and other Loyalists.

"If peace is going to work is has to be fair to both sides. We have all made mistakes in the past so let's try to move on now."

Mr Knight said that the millions of pounds being spent on public enquiries could be better spent on issues which the whole community share, such as the state of the health service.

"We can't sweep the past below the carpet and we shouldn't but pouring millions of pounds into enquiries that won't achieve a lot won't help."

Knight accepted that his speaking out might make his situation worse but said: "I have decided to speak out to say 'get off my back' but will those politicians listen?

"I have genuinely moved on in my thinking. I want to get on with my life and I want people to forget about me but it's as if I'm the only person who did anything wrong."

WHAT THE MEDIA SAID ABOUT ME

In a wide ranging interview with The Coleraine Times, Knight was particularly critical of the way he has been portrayed by the media.

And he is in no doubt why.

"When I went into prison the media picked on me because I showed defiance coming out of court," said Knight referring to the infamous photograph of him emerging from Limavady courthouse and jeering at crowds after being charged with the Greysteel murders.

"Since I went into prison, 95% of what has been written about me has been lies and I know why.

"They made me out to be a monster and wrote what ever they wanted about me. And basically because I am a convicted murderer, they can write what they want about me and get away with it.

"That is why John Dallat and Billy Leonard feel that they can say what they want about me and the media will report it."

"John Dallat and Billy Leonard accused me of being an MI5 informer with absolutely no proof," claimed Knight.

"I can sit here and categorically state that isn't true.

"But they just seem to be able to say what they want. To say someone is an informer when they are part of a paramilitary organisation is the lowest of the low because the big thing in paramilitaries is trust.

"Look what happened to some of the informers on the other side like Scappatici and Dennis Donaldson. I could quite easily have been shot over that. Maybe that's what they would like."

In 2007, the Ulster Political Research Group responded to what they called a "two-year hate campaign" in the media against Knight and declared that he had not and never had been in the pay of MI5 or any other branch of the security services.

In October 2007, a Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland investigation established that police did not have any prior knowledge which could have helped them prevent the Greysteel attack. The investigators did not find any evidence that Torrens Knight was protected from the rigours of the law.

Have you a comment to make on this or any other story on our web site?

Contact news@colerainetimes.co.uk or telephone 02870357610.

 
 
 

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