Allison Morris

I have worked as a crime and security journalist for most of my 20 plus years in the business, almost exclusively in print. I was appointed as the Belfast Telegraph's Crime Correspondent in March 2021.

It was the interview everyone wanted, a sit down with Hazel Stewart the Sunday school teacher, turned double killer. The killer dentist case captured the attention of the nation, a double murder involving sex, drugs, religion, and deceit. Hazel was one half of the killer duo, her accomplice Colin Howell - a well-off dentist and pillar of the church - killed his wife and Hazel’s policeman husband, staging the scene to make it look like a suicide pact. The pair pulled off the crime leaving them free to carry on their affair until Howell’s attack of conscience a decade later. Hazel is currently behind bars serving life in prison. The interview was only possible after several years of discussions with her legal team. During Covid it took place via the virtual prison visit system. The trust built up over time she spent the next hour and a half revealing details of the crime of the decade and her life behind bars since conviction. The appetite for the story was still there and the public interest was huge. It was also an insight into what drove this middle-class housewife to assist her lover in murder. Dennis McFadden was the jewel in the crown of MI5’s operations against violent republicans determined to continue with a war that long since ended for the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland. Embedded in with the so-called New IRA for over a decade, he helped dismantle the organisation responsible for the murders of two prison officers and at least four civilians, including journalist Lyra McKee. The leadership now behind bars awaiting trial, McFadden has disappeared, living a new life under a different identity. Contacts built up over 20 years of security reporting put me in pole position to lift the curtain and let our readers see inside the murky world of militant republicanism and the spy who finally brought them down. Carrickfergus is picturesque, a former port it should be an idyllic place to live, instead the local housing estates are dominated by the presence of loyalist paramilitary gangs. The South East Antrim UDA, since 1995 have murdered seven people, shockingly there have been no convictions. I took a deep dive into terrorist activity in a town under siege. Shortly after the publication of both the McFadden investigation and the loyalist Carrickfergus expose, my home was visited by police to warn me that my life was under threat from terrorists. A regular but unwelcome reminder that Northern Ireland remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists to operate.