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Stephen Fulton was jailed for shooting wife Corien Fulton (34) in the head because he feared she would leave him
A convicted wife killer has been appointed to a top role in the Orange Order sparking fury amongst its members.
Stephen Fulton, who was jailed for shooting wife Corien Fulton (34) in the head because he feared she would leave him, is the new Worshipful District Master of Cookstown District LOL No 3.
He was pictured wearing his sash in publicity shots for the lodge which appeared in a local newspaper along with a message from colleagues wishing him “every success for the future”.
But what they did not mention is that Fulton, a former part-time staff sergeant in the Royal Irish Rangers (RIR), is a cold-blooded killer who was caged for the 1999 manslaughter of his wife.
Now aged 77, he was sentenced to just five years in prison for the fatal shooting after Omagh Crown Court accepted “his actions had been substantially impaired by a classifiable mental disorder”.
Fulton moved back to Cookstown after getting out of prison, rejoined the Orange Order and is now its most senior figure in the Co Tyrone town.
Sources who tipped-off Sunday Life about his promotion said it brings “shame” on the organisation and branded it a “scandal”.
Challenged about his wife Corine’s callous killing, Fulton told us: “It happened over 20 years ago and I’ve did my time. Someone from within the Orange Order has been on to you and betrayed me. I don’t know what else to say.”
Fulton’s friend and fellow Orangeman Trevor Carson later rang Sunday Life to defend his pal, saying: “Stephen served his time and paid his debt to society. He’s a good man.”
The Orange Order was contacted for comment but got no response.
But sources within the institution described the appointment of Stephen Fulton to a top job in the organisation as a “PR disaster”.
“It brings shame on the Orange, there is no justification for it,” said an insider. “It’s bad enough having a convicted wife killer as a member, but to make him a worshipful grand master is really offensive.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the announcement in the local paper with a big picture of Fulton sitting there among a crowd of senior Orangemen with his sash on. This will turn into a big scandal and the Orange is going to get hammered because of it, and rightly so.”
Fulton killed his wife Corien, who was 20 years his junior, at the home they shared at Old Rectory Heights in Cookstown in June 1999.
He had been at an RIR summer training camp in England when she called to tell him that she was leaving him for another man.
Fulton returned home and used his army-issue handgun to shoot Corien in the head while she sat in their bedroom.
Sentencing the part-time soldier to five years in prison for manslaughter, Mr Justice Gillen said: “I believe that it is against this background that the final straw which precipitated you taking your wife’s life occurred when she removed her wedding ring in the bedroom.
“I think that it may well have been at this moment when you decided to shoot her.
“You have killed a comparatively young woman and for that the public interest requires that you be punished notwithstanding the medical report before me and the provocation under which you acted.”
Mr Justice Gillen said the courts had to make it clear that “a killing of this type will not be tolerated”. But he added that Fulton deserved credit for his guilty plea and that it was accepted he was genuinely remorseful and there was “a measure of provocation by your wife’s threatened departure”.
The judge ruled this “shock” had been “fuelled by the unexpected nature of her intention”.
He said: “The unexpected nature of her declaration and your evident failure to dissuade her were clearly compelling factors in the tragedy that unfolded.”
Fulton’s lawyer explained that while his client had been at the RIR training camp he learned his wife was seeing another man and had lied to his superiors because he “didn’t want anyone to know his business”.
He said the killer wanted to make up with Corien and save their marriage but “matters came to a head at the end of a very traumatic week and tragically his wife died”.
After getting out of prison in 2005 Fulton spent 12 months on probation, with Mr Justice Gillen saying this was necessary to “protect the public” from him given the “explosive nature” of his crime.
The five-year prison sentenced imposed on Fulton for gunning down his wife was at the time criticised by Women’s Coalition leader Monica McWilliams who questioned both the manslaughter verdict and judge’s remarks.