Northern Ireland news

George Gilmore murder accused refused bail

George Gilmore died from injuries following a shooting in Carrickfergus on March 13

Two men charged with murdering prominent loyalist George Gilmore must remain in custody, a judge ruled today.

Alleged gunman Samuel David McMaw (29) and his associate Brian McLean (35) were both refused bail despite again questioning the reliability of key prosecution witnesses to the killing in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

Their applications were denied at Belfast Magistrates' Court on the basis that no change in circumstances had been established.

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

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

The attack was part of a year-long dispute between Gilmore's grouping and the UDA's south east Antrim unit which is said to have cost more than £1m to police.

McMaw, from Starbog Road in Kilwaughter, Co Antrim, and McLean, known as "Scotch Brian" and 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 was gunned down as he returned with others from attending court in support of friends accused of trying to kill a pub doorman at the Royal Oak 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 Cherry Walk area.

At a previous hearing prosecutors claimed 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.

His car continued on, mounting a pavement before crashing into a wall.

Defence lawyers based their new applications for bail on issues around the credibility of witnesses.

They argued that two men who claim McMaw and McLean were involved in 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.

Barrister Dennis Boyd contended: "These witnesses are fundamentally unreliable."

Refusing the applications, however, District Judge Nigel Broderick stressed he was not overseeing the trial.

"I don't believe this court is in a position to properly analyse the Crown case to such an extent that it would change the view in relation to bail," he said.

"I'm not satisfied there's a material change in circumstances." 

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