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George Gilmore accused refused bail

George Gilmore (44) died in hospital the day after being shot in his car in Carrickfergus in March

The alleged gunman in the murder of prominent loyalist George Gilmore has been refused High Court bail.

A judge has ruled that Samuel David McMaw, 29, must remain in custody amid fears of potential interference with witnesses to the shooting in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

Gilmore, 44, died after being hit by bullets fired at his car on the Woodburn housing estate in March this year.

He had been lured into a trap by alleged killers who goaded him into a chase, detectives claim.

The attack formed part of a year-long feud between Gilmore's grouping and the UDA's South East Antrim unit.

McMaw, from Starbog Road in Kilwaughter, Co Antrim, and 35-year-old co-accused Brian McLean, with an address at The Birches in Carrickfergus, are jointly charged with the murder.

They also face further counts of attempting to murder two of Gilmore's friends and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. Both men deny all the offences.

Gilmore came under attack as he returned from attending court in support of friends accused of trying to kill a pub doorman at a bar in the town two days previously.

His son, George Junior, was travelling in convoy in a second vehicle.

Two men, allegedly identified by witnesses as McMaw and McLean, were spotted standing in the area.

Prosecutors claim they began shouting and making hand and arm gestures in a bid to provoke the Gilmores into a pursuit.

McMaw was then allegedly seen to crouch down in an alleyway, attempt to pull a balaclava over his face and brandish a gun.

As Gilmore tried to speed off up to eight shots were fired from a 9mm pistol.

One bullet went through the windscreen, striking the loyalist in the back of the head.

Seeking bail on behalf of McMaw, defence counsel Dennis Boyd challenged the reliability of key prosecution witnesses.

He argued that two men who allege his client carried out the shooting had previously claimed they were abducted and beaten as part of the same paramilitary feud.

Weeks later the pair withdrew those statements of complaint, the court heard.

Mr Boyd also told the High Court that police believe another witness has "purposely circulated misleading information about the criminal activity of the South East Antrim UDA".

Pointing to the lack of forensic evidence, the barrister contended: "It's not in any sense a strong Crown case."

But denying bail, Mr Justice Colton held there was clear recognition evidence.

The judge said: "I do have a concern about the potential risk of interference with witnesses and potential further involvement in criminal activity given the background."

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