Northern Ireland

Man to stand trial on charges linked to Robbie Lawlor murder

Accused to face a charge of assisting offenders in connection with the assassination

Robbie Lawlor (Alan Lewis-Photopress Belfast/Photopress Belfast)

A Belfast man is to stand trial accused of helping the alleged killers of Irish crime boss Robbie Lawlor flee in the aftermath of the murder, a judge ordered on Friday.

James Fields, 39, appeared at the city’s Magistrates Court to face a charge of assisting offenders in connection with the assassination.

Lawlor, 36, was shot dead in broad daylight outside a house at Etna Drive in the Ardoyne area of Belfast on April 4, 2020.

The killing formed part of a violent drugs dispute between rival criminal factions with connections to Drogheda, Dublin and Sligo.

Two other men, Adrian Holland, 40, and Patrick Teer, 49, have been charged with the murder.

Neither Holland, from Etna Drive in Belfast, nor Teer, of Thornberry Hill in the city, are suspected of being the gunman.

Instead, they are accused as part of a joint enterprise with unidentified others.

Fields, whose address cannot be disclosed, is being prosecuted for assisting offenders as part of the same investigation.

It is alleged that he knew others had committed the murder and impeded their apprehension by enabling them to leave the jurisdiction.

During a preliminary enquiry hearing he confirmed that he understood the charge but declined to give evidence or call witnesses at this stage.

Defence solicitor Michael Brentnall did not contest submissions that Fields has a prima facie case to answer.

Granting the prosecution’s application, District Judge Steven Keown ruled: “He will be returned for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.”