Northern Ireland news

Four jailed over murder of loyalist Colin Horner

Colin Horner was shot dead in a supermarket carpark in Bangor, Co Down. Picture by Pacemaker

FOUR men have been jailed for life after pleading guilty to involvement in the loyalist feud killing of Colin Horner as the trial was due to get underway.

The 35 year-old father-of-two was shot dead in a supermarket carpark in Bangor, Co Down, in May 2017.

The killing of Mr Horner, who was gunned down in front of his three-year old son Oscar, was linked at the time to the South East Antrim UDA feud which claimed the life two months earlier of his friend, Carrick loyalist Geordie Gilmore.

Geordie Gilmore was also murdered as a result of the loyalist feud

The four men were about to go on trial at Belfast Crown Court when defence counsel asked for their clients to be rearraigned, on the murder charge and for possessing the gun used in the Balloo Link Retail Park shooting on May 28, 2017

As the charges were put to Newtownards men Alan James Wilson (30) of North Green, Joseph Blair (35), of Shackleton Walk, Robert Ralph, (47) of Donaghadee Road, and 31-year-old Bangor man Ryan Graham Smyth of Windsor Gardens, they each pleaded guilty.

Following their pleas, Mr Justice Colton told the men they would be jailed for life, "the only sentence open" to him in the circumstances.

However, he added that next week, when their various roles in the shooting would be detailed to the court, he would also hold a tariff hearing to determine how long they would each serve of their life terms before being considered for release.

A murder charge against a fifth man, 48-year-old Adrian Gordon Price, of Bristol Park, Newtownards, was not proceeded with by the prosecution and "allowed to remain on the books", after he pleaded guilty to an additional count of withholding information about the murder between June and October 2017.

And a 24-year old Conlig woman Terrie Aicken, from Green Road, pleaded guilty to a similar charge of withholding information in June 2017, after which the more serious charge of  perverting public justice "by making a false statement to police" was also allowed to "remain on the books".

They were later released on continuing bail, while their four co-accused, were remanded into custody.

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