Northern Ireland news

Painter & decorator guilty of providing getaway car to UDA for Boreland murder

Thomas Boyd Pearson has been convicted of supplying the car used by the UDA to kill John Boreland

A painter and decorator has been found guilty of providing his car to the UDA which was used in the murder of loyalist rival John 'Bonzer' Boreland.''

Thomas Boyd Pearson (63), formerly of Cliftondene Park in north Belfast, but now with an address at Rathglynn in Antrim, had denied a single charge at his non-jury Belfast Crown Court trial of making property available to terrorists, namely a silver Renault Megane car.

He had pleaded guilty to a charge of perverting the course of by burning the Megane after the murder.

Two men - Darren McAllister and Thomas O'Hara - have already pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice over the vehicle.

It was the prosecution's case that the silver Megane car was seen by witnesses leaving the murder scene at Sunningdale Garden, north Belfast, after a number of shots rang out.

Mr Boreland was found slumped between two cars, one of which was own Mercedes vehicle on the evening of Sunday, August 7, 2016.

A post mortem examination said the victim had died from "significant head trauma'' caused by a shotgun wound to the head.

Prosecution counsel David McDowell QC said that according to the autopsy, Mr Boreland was shot three times - once to the left arm, one round hit him in the chest from a few metres 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 Silver Megane car was later captured on CCTV driving in convoy with a Nissan Micra car.

The court heard the Micra car was fitted with a tracking which showed that device the Micra drove to Wheelers Road in the Belfast hills a few days later where the Megane car was found on fire.

During a ruling on the case today, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said that Pearson told police at interview that an individual came to his door one night and said: "We need your car to do a wee message.''

Pearson later told police that in fact a car load of people had come his door and described them as "'sinister'''.

"In a series of answers, he indicated that these individual were members of a group.''

The judge said Pearson was asked by police if they belonged to a terrorist or proscribed organisation and Pearson replied: "Aye, I'd say they do.''

"At this stage of the interview,'' said the Belfast Recorder, "he was confirming his belief that they were members of a group, which is either a terrorist group or a proscribed group and regarded members of that group he came into contact with as 'sinster'.

"He confirmed his belief that the request for his car came from somebody very high and as he described 'somebody at the very top'.''

But Pearson denied to police that the request for his car had come from north Belfast UDA, but said the request could have come from another area.

The Belfast Recorder concluded: "I am satisfied by the replies given by the defendant to the various questions that at the time he made the vehicle available he knew that it was going to be used for the benefit of a proscribed organisation...his replies indicate his knowledge that it was the Ulster Defence Association.

"Further he has admitted that the request for the vehicles was "to do a wee message''.

"On the basis of what the defendant said to police, he knew that the vehicle was going to be used for the benefit of a proscribed organisation.

"I am firmly convinced that there were certain facts known to the defendant which would have given him reasonable cause to suspect that his vehicle was going to be used by a proscribed organisation.

"In circumstances given by what I have explained, I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty and I find him guilty of count two on the indictment.''

Judge McFarland released the defendant on continuing bail and said he would sentence Pearson and his two accused next month.

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