'Lithuanian mafia' link in Co Down shootings, court told

The Armagh Road, Newry where a man was shot in the leg in September
The Armagh Road, Newry where a man was shot in the leg in September

A DOUBLE shooting carried out in Co Down is allegedly linked to the Lithuanian mafia, the High Court has heard.

One of the two victims claimed he was abducted and warned he would be beaten for a week if he didn't hand over £5,000 for suspected drug dealing, prosecutors said.

Details emerged as bail was granted to a man charged with two attempted murders over the allegedly linked gun attacks in Newry two months ago.

Ramunas Macnoris (26) also faces counts of kidnapping, possessing a handgun with intent to commit attempted murder, driving while disqualified and without insurance or a licence.

Two men in their 30s were shot at Sandys Street and Armagh Road in the city on September 17.

Macnoris, a Lithuanian national, of Lambfield House in Dungannon, is alleged to have been driving a car used to abduct one of the pair from their home in Warrenpoint.

Prosecution counsel David McClean said that alleged victim changed his account after initially claiming he was taken by local men.

"He later disclosed that he had been on the run from the Lithuanian mafia for a large drug debt for approximately three years," the barrister said.

It was claimed the man was forced into a Volkswagen Passat at gunpoint and taken to Newry where he was shot in the leg.

During the ordeal, he alleged, a phone was handed to him and demands made to come up with the £5,000.

Bullet casings recovered indicate ammunition used in Eastern block service weapons was deployed, the court heard.

Mr Justice Colton was told police are still searching for three other suspects.

With the accused's partner, who works as a nurse, prepared to put up a £5,000 cash surety, the judge decided bail could be granted.

He ordered Macnoris to be curfewed, electronically tagged and banned him from entering Newry or Warrenpoint as well as surrendering his passport.