The six men who attempted the Whitemoor break-out include some of the most notorious terrorists in mainland prisons. Between them they are responsible for a series of bloody murders, ambitious bomb plots involving huge amounts of explosives, and daring attempts to escape from custody.
Sherry, 39, was one of a five-strong team of Provisional IRA members all jailed for life in 1986 for an offensive in London and at 12 seaside resorts a year earlier. Sherry played a low-key role in the London and seaside conspiracy. He was also said to have been involved in a planned escape with Gilbert McNamee from Parkhurst jail on the Isle of Wight last year.
Sherry inadvertently led police to his co-conspirators. An undercover surveillance team followed him from his home in Co Tyrone to the Glasgow hotel where they were arrested. Although of minor rank in the IRA, he is a fanatical republican. As he was led from the dock after his conviction, he shouted to the court: "The British are responsible." The judge had told him: "You are, and you will remain, a danger to the public for some time."
McNamee, 31, has been identified as one of the IRA's most skilled bomb-makers, with a part in many of the major campaigns of the Eighties. His crimes include making the device that killed four Household Cavalry soldiers in the 1982 Hyde Park explosion, for which he was sentenced to 25 years in prison seven years ago. He is also thought to have been involved in 19 other deaths, including the six victims of the 1983 Harrods bomb.
Originally from Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, McNamee left school with 11 O- levels and three A-levels before reading physics at Queen's University, Belfast. His father and two cousins were killed by terrorist bombs. McNamee claimed in two trials that the losses had made him a staunch opponent of violence. The defence succeeded in the first, in Dublin, but failed in London.
McCotter, 31, is serving 17 years for conspiracy to cause explosions. He too was caught in possession of a massive amount of arms and explosives. The haul, hidden in two Cheshire forests, included 190lb of Semtex from Libya. Detectives believed the IRA planned to target politicians in the 1987 general election and attack Mark Thatcher's wedding. …