Notorious UDA racketeer Jimmy Craig ‘set up RUC officer for murder’

Sources say say Craig set up RUC constable John Larmour, who was gunned down by two IRA men as he served ice cream in a shop in south Belfast.

Jimmy Craig is believed to have set up Constable John Larmour

John Larmour was shot in Barnam’s ice cream shop in 1988

John Larmour was shot dead

Hugh JordanSunday World

Notorious UDA racketeer Jimmy Craig fingered an RUC officer for murder, the Sunday World has been told.

Former loyalist paramilitaries believe the Shankill Road thug – gunned down by former friends 35 years ago – had a hand in up to 16 murders, including many leading loyalists.

But they also say Craig set up RUC constable John Larmour, who was gunned down by two IRA men as he served ice cream in a shop in south Belfast.

A bully boy and known UDA extortionist, Craig lived in the Shankill area of west Belfast. But UDA Brigadier Tommy ‘Tucker’ Lyttle seconded him to south Belfast, where rich pickings were to be gained on numerous building sites.

Craig died in a hail of bullets as he played pool in an east Belfast bar on October 15, 1988. He was gunned down by gunmen from the UDA-linked Ulster Freedom Fighters.

Craig’s brutal murder came after an investigation by UDA leaders found him guilty of treason and sentenced him to death.

He was also suspected of setting up UDA leader John McMichael for murder by the IRA.

The Sunday World has been told that days before Craig died in a pool of his own blood, he told the IRA that John Larmour – a serving RUC officer – was working in an ice cream shop in south Belfast. It was all part of an elaborate plan by Craig to prevent the IRA from killing him.

John Larmour was shot in Barnam’s ice cream shop in 1988

Father-of-one Constable Larmour (42) died when two IRA gunmen walked into Barnam’s ice cream parlour on the Lisburn Road and shot him dead. They also injured two other customers.

The police officer had been looking after the business for a week while his brother George was on holiday abroad.

Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair – a convicted director of loyalist terrorism – told the Sunday World: “I was a young loyalist at the time, but I remember the leadership held an investigation into Craig’s activities.

“It revealed that just days before John Larmour was murdered, Jimmy Craig – who was operating as a UDA racketeer on building sites in south Belfast – walked into Barnam’s ice cream shop.

“He apparently spotted John Larmour standing behind the counter. He knew him as an RUC man on the Shankill and asked him what he was doing working in an ice cream shop.

"John may even have told Craig he was looking after the place for his brother who was on holiday, who knows?

“But the UDA leadership firmly believed Jimmy Craig passed on John Larmour’s details to the IRA, days before he was murdered.

“It was all part of his insurance policy against his murder by the IRA,” said Adair, who is now based in Scotland.

He added: “It appears that not only was Jimmy Craig prepared to set up other loyalists to protect himself, he also gave the IRA details of a serving police officer who was a sitting target.”

A new report into Craig’s alleged role in the IRA murder of UVF boss William ‘Frenchie’ Marchant in 1987 is due to be published in the near future.

And online speculation among loyalists this week anticipated that The Marchant File, by the Ulidia Legacy & Educational Trust, may also reveal further details of Craig’s alleged ‘treachery’ in setting up Constable Larmour.

Yesterday, John Larmour’s brother George declined to discuss this latest development when contacted by the Sunday World.

In his book They Killed the Ice Cream Man – published seven years ago – he makes no reference to a possible connection between his brother John and Jimmy Craig or any other members of the UDA on Shankill Road.

John Larmour was shot dead

“I knew John Larmour well and my husband John and Bucky were friends.

“There had been a row between the UDA and the UVF over something that happened in one of the clubs. I can’t remember the full details of it.

“But Bucky didn’t drink and he didn’t go out, so he wasn’t directly involved. But our house was attacked,” she said.

Speaking from the Denmark Street home where she has lived for over 50 years, Barbara McCullough – a mother of six – recalled: “A bullet was fired through our bedroom window at the back of the house and John Larmour came to investigate it.

“John said it was ridiculous that our house had been shot up. In fact he was mad about it.

“But soon afterwards Bucky became suspicious of Craig. He knew he had contacts in the IRA and the INLA over building site rackets.

“And when Bucky began to voice his suspicions, he was shot dead by the INLA,” said Barbara McCullough.

She added: “I now believe top police officers knew all about Jimmy Craig and what he was up to.”

William ‘Bucky’ McCullough (32) was shot dead on October 15, 1981 as he was about to set off to buy a tin of paint to decorate his girls’ bedroom.

“One of the girls ran down the path to hand Bucky his necklace.

“He had just got into his Peugeot estate car when two INLA gunmen pulled up on a motorbike and shot him dead,” said Barbara.

Self-confessed INLA gunman and later supergrass Harry Kirkpatrick later told police he and other republican terrorists, including the notorious killer Gerard ‘Dr Death’ Steenson, had taken part in the attack.

One of the men involved was later sentenced to 766 years in prison for his part in the McCullough murder and other offences.

But it later emerged Jimmy Craig had used his connections with leading INLA republicans to set up his friend McCullough for murder.

Using a set of high-powered binoculars, a republican based in nearby Unit Flats watched as McCullough got himself ready to go out.

And when he emerged from his terrace home, the look-out gave the go-ahead for the McCullough murder mission to begin.

Barbara said this week: “Jimmy Craig was hated on the Shankill Road. He was a devious and evil man.

“Every shop he went into he just lifted things – be it a bakery or a butcher’s – he just lifted what he wanted, but he never paid for anything.

“Two men came to this house one night and they were intent on killing Craig. They had been in jail with him and they knew what he was up to, but Tucker Lyttle stopped them.”

Barbara McCullough also revealed how her husband had survived two previous attempts on his life. And he was convinced Jimmy Craig was behind both failed attacks.

She said: “Craig had persuaded others to shoot Bucky twice before, but they failed. Bucky arranged to meet Craig in the UDA headquarters.

“He handed Craig a gun and said, ‘There’s a gun. If you want me dead, then do it yourself’. Of course he never lifted the gun.

“It wouldn’t surprise me that Craig was involved in setting up John Larmour. Nothing surprises me about Jimmy Craig,” said Barbara.

She added: “You see what the TV Cook Report said about him, ‘Worse than the Mafia’, well it’s true.”

Barbara also revealed a PSNI Legacy Branch report into her husband’s murder is currently nearing completion.

Her son 21-year-old Alan – a member of Johnny Adair’s notorious ‘C Coy’ – fled to England with the rest of his supporters following a feud with the UVF, which decimated the Shankill area.

But he was lured back to Belfast in April 2003 after a UDA leader promised him he’d be safe if he returned.

A month later, Alan’s body was discovered in a shallow grave near Mallusk, Co Antrim. The UDA later admitted responsibility for his murder.

A retired police officer who served with John Larmour in the RUC’s B Division in west Belfast said: “John was a good man. He was always neat and tidy and he was a conscientious police officer.

“If he had a fault, it was probably, that he was too trusting.”

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