Northern Ireland

Kevin Conway murder: Man charged with killing denied permission to attend godson’s first Holy Communion

Aidan O’Keefe (27) was seeking temporary release from custody for the religious ceremony

Pacemaker Press 14/01/24
Family and Friends during The funeral of murder victim Kevin Conway  at St Peter’s Church in Lurgan on Sunday.
The 26-year-old, who was shot multiple times in west Belfast earlier this week.
Conway had made several appearances in court charged with the murder of Whitla in Lurgan and had been granted bail.
Murder victim Kevin Conway

A man charged with the gangland murder of Kevin Conway in west Belfast is to be denied permission to attend his godson’s first Holy Communion, the High Court has ruled.

Aidan O’Keefe (27) was seeking temporary release from custody for the religious ceremony at a church in the city on Friday.

But a judge refused compassionate bail amid concerns it could put others attending the event at risk.

Mr Conway (26) was gunned down in his flat at Rossnareen Park on January 9 this year.

He had been associated with notorious crime gang The Firm and was on bail for the murder of Shane Whitla in Lurgan, Co Armagh in January 2023.

Police revealed he was shot multiple times just minutes after sending his partner a message to say he was relaxing at home on the Playstation. 

The killers are believed to have entered the property and opened fire with a shotgun and a pistol.

O’Keefe and co-accused Fergal Kane (54) are jointly charged with the murder.

Both men, whose addresses in Belfast cannot be reported, face a further count of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Prosecution counsel said they allegedly travelled in convoy by van and car to the scene of the assassination.

It was claimed they are connected by CCTV evidence, a vehicle tracking device and registration plate sightings on the night of the murder.

O’Keefe left the Royal Victoria Hospital earlier that evening and drove his Toyota Proace work van through a number of streets in the west of the city before linking up with Kane’s BMW car, according to the police case.

The vehicles were said to have parked up a short distance from the victim’s home before two masked men in dark clothing got out and walked towards the property.

Based on CCTV footage and GPRS tracking data, the van and car then left the area and split up.

Two suspected gunmen were also observed walking on foot in the neighbourhood for a period after the shooting.

Kane’s BMW was seized and forensically examined as part of the investigation.

Initial tests revealed three particles indicative of cartridge discharge residue were located in the car. 

The court heard three men made a subsequent attempt to get rid of the work van but were chased off by plain-clothes police officers keeping the vehicle under observation.

O’Keefe was seeking to be released from Maghaberry Prison for a five-hour period to attend the church ceremony.

A defence lawyer offered to act as a chaperone throughout his release.

But Mr Justice O’Hara queried: “Since when did solicitors provide an escort role?“

“Lawyers are there to provide a legal service, not to be a chaperone for family events.”

Despite being told Prison Service staff will not perform the role, the judge ruled that compassionate bail must be refused.