Freddie Scappaticci once told one of his captives that if he had his way he would be hung upside down in a cowshed and no-one would hear him squeal as he was skinned alive.
The would-be victim Sandy Lynch was rescued from IRA execution by the security forces.
The year was 1990 and Mr Scappaticci’s double life as an agent within the IRA was approaching an end.
But it would be a further 13 years before he was unmasked as Stakeknife.
Mr Scappaticci, who died last week aged 77, was for a long period the British Army’s “golden egg” within the IRA.
“Scap”, as he was known, was born to an Italian family which came to Belfast in the 1940s.
A bricklayer by trade, he was interned without trial between 1971 and 1974.
A few years later he became a paid spy for the Army, reportedly crossing over after being beaten up by the IRA following a row with a senior member.
By the 1980s he was operating at the heart of the IRA, within its internal security unit.
It was known as the “nutting squad”…
This article was written by and originally published on www.bbc.co.uk