John Boreland murder 'an execution' trial hears

Loyalist John Boreland was gunned down on August 7

A FORMER senior UDA figure was "executed'' outside his north Belfast home by loyalist paramilitaries, a trial heard today.

John 'Bonzer' Boreland was hit three times from a shotgun close to his home at Sunningdale Gardens in August 2016.

The details of his murder were revealed as Thomas Boyd Pearson went on trial at Belfast Crown Court.

The 63-year-old, formerly of Clftondene Park in north Belfast but now with an address at Rathglynn in Antrim, denies a single charge of making property available to terrorists, namely a silver Renault Megane which was used by the killers in the murder.

Two men - Darren McAllister and Thomas O'Hara - have already pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by burning the car after the murder. They are awaiting sentence.

Members of Mr Boreland's family, along with Andre Shoukri, the UDA's former brigadier in north Belfast and a close friend of the deceased, sat in the public gallery as the trial started.

Prosecution counsel David McDowell QC told the opening day of Pearson's non-jury trial that at around 9.45pm on the night of Sunday, August 7, 2016, witnesses reported hearing a number of shots being fired and a silver Renault car speeding away from the scene.

Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland heard that the body of Mr Boreland was found slumped beside his black Mercedes car.

A post mortem examination said Boreland had been shot three times - once to the left arm, one round hit him in the chest and the third was to the "front and top of the head caused by a shotgun being fired at close range which caused the fatal injury''.

The senior prosecutor added: "The implication is that this was an execution''.

The court heard that on the morning of Monday, August 8, Thomas Boyd Pearson drove a silver Renault Megane, registration number GJZ 4870, to Derriaghy Road where he was carrying out a decorating job.

The same day police issued an appeal for information about three cars that had been seen leaving the scene of the murder - one of which was a silver Megane.

Mr McDowell said that the same day, Pearson asked the owner of the house if he could leave the Megane at her property overnight as he couldn't get it started.

The same evening a Nissan Micra was driven from Carr's Glen Park, where Darren McAllister lived, to Derriaghy Road and then straight back to north Belfast via Cliftondene Park where Pearson then lived.

The prosecution counsel told Belfast Crown Court: "We know this because, as part of the terms of an insurance policy, a tracker device had been inserted into the Micra.''

The Renault Megane was collected the following morning and driven to Wheeler's Road in the Belfast hills "where it was set on fire''.

The car was later seized by police who discovered that on March 17, 2016 it had been sold by a casual car dealer to three men who called to his home.

Police were able to track the car back to Pearson who was arrested on September 13, 2016.

Asked about cars, Pearson told detectives that he drove a small Mercedes which he owned for a few weeks and cost him £400. He also told then about a Volkswagen Sharan he had owned but made no mention of the Renault Megane.

He was asked about a witness statement he had made to police on August 11, 2016, and confirmed he had driven another car to a painting job, a Renault Megane, although he claimed he only had it a couple of weeks before.

Later, he denied that he was one of three males who had gone to a casual car dealer to buy it.

He said that Darren McAllister had picked him up from the painting job and had driven back the next morning and that there had been someone in the car with them who he said he did not know.

Pearson said that he told McAllister to scrap the Megane car as it was no use.

The court heard Pearson was shown CCTV footage from outside the house at Derriaghy Road which showed the Megane being driven out onto the road on the Tuesday morning in question.

At the beginning of his next interview with detectives, Mr McDowell said that a prepared statement was read out on his behalf.

In it Pearson denied having anything to do with the murder and said he handed over his car because he was "scared''.

When asked by detectives if the person who threatened him could have been a mere foot soldier from the organisation Pearson replied: "Well, I would say it came from the very top, the top of the tree''.

It was then confirmed that he meant paramilitaries from the loyalist community within Belfast, add Mr McDowell.

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