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'UDA COUP' KILLER BACK IN PRISON; Ex-lifer 'was to replace Bunting'.

Byline: MAURICE FITZMAURICE

A UDA man linked to a bid to oust the terror group's North Belfast leadership has been thrown back in jail.

But sources close to Robert "Rab" Molyneaux claim the ex-life prisoner has been set up because he was "seen as a threat".

Molyneaux, 46, was taken back to Maghaberry Prison on Thursday morning just days after media reports suggested he was being lined up to replace North Belfast "brigadier" John Bunting.

However, loyalist sources told the Daily Mirror that Molyneaux was "no more interested in taking over than the man on the moon", as he did not want to risk being sent back to jail and missing Christmas with his young son.

Molyneaux was given two life sentences for the 1987 murders of Catholics Edward Campbell and James Meighan. He was released under the Good Friday Agreement.

However, he was jailed again in 2008 for his part in a blackmail case. He was on pre-release leave from that sentence when he was lifted and returned to jail this week.

One source added: "He was on pre-release and was doing everything by the book, living with his parents, taking drink and drug tests, being in at a certain time according to a curfew and only got a glowing report from the probation people the other day.

"It's a mystery why his name was thrown into the mix at all. Maybe because he's a former lifer and a respected loyalist he's seen as some kind of a threat, but he's not interested in taking over North Belfast.

"There's a few up here reckon his name was thrown out there exactly so this would happen and he'd be taken off the scene.

"It's sickening because he was looking forward to spending a bit of time over Christmas with his son because he's been in jail for so many Christmases."

The split in the UDA has PRESSURE been increasingly played out in public with different factions releasing statements backing or condemning the leadership in North Belfast.

The Daily Mirror reported yesterday how the West Belfast, North Antrim and Derry UPRG said they "will not bolster a regime that has no membership support" in a reference to North Belfast.

The move came after South and East Belfast's UPRG said they back North Belfast.

There have been conflicting reports over recent weeks of who is behind moves to oust the North Belfast leadership and what their motivations are.

m.fitzmaurice@mgn.co.uk

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 14, 2013
Words:416
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