Thomas Dixie Elliot recalls a bruising jail encounter with a loyalist assassin and a lethal ally of the British state. Dixie Elliot is a former H-Block blanket protestor.
I'm almost finished Anne Cadwallader's powerful book Lethal Allies in which the Loyalist serial killer Robin Jackson 'The Jackal' gets mentioned.
Around September or October 1976 I was on remand in Crumlin Road Jail and sharing a cell with the late Peter McCallion and Seamus Soal from Derry. At this time we had the Loyalists locked up in their cells and one night a loyalist who had been moved into the cell next to ours started shouting sectarian abuse out of his cell door and window.
The next day our cell door opened and a screw called John Hanna (who was later jailed himself for setting up fellow screw Brian Armour) said, "do you want to give that bastard a hammering Dixie? He just threatened my family."
I said well let me in at him.
Hanna opened the Loyalist's cell door and I saw a short stocky boyo standing in the middle of the cell with a look of sheer horror on his face. He was alone. As soon as I went at him he flung himself into the corner, rolled up into a ball and started screaming like a mad man. I kicked and stamped on him until Hanna pulled me back in a panic fearful I might kick him to death.
We heard no more of the Loyalist as he must have been moved and it wasn't until later that we found out he was Robin Jackson the Loyalist killer, who murdered innocent men, women and even children.
Strangely enough two nights ago I got a PM from a Derry man who has been living in South Africa for many years. He is a friend on Facebook. He asked me did I know a Tony Berry when I was inside. I said I never heard of him. He elaborated; Anthony 'Chuck' Berry, a UVF man from the Shankill Road. I said I had heard of him but I never met him. He said that he seemed to know me from jail and had referred to me as Dixie Elliott from Derry.
I insisted that I never met this Chuck Berry in jail and asked him how and when did my name crop up. He said that it was back in 1986 when he met Berry on a refinery project in South Africa. At first he only mentioned Belfast and the Shankill Road but a few nights later they got talking about back home and he dropped my name as someone he knew from Derry...
It got me wondering, did this Chuck Berry know of me because I gave Jackson a kicking and was he fishing for information?