Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Drug boss 'helped to murder LVF man'

Jonty 'drove assassin to kill Warnock'

SLAIN drugs baron Jim 'Jonty' Johnston was involved in the murder of a loyalist who was killed while carrying £40,000 in cash, an inquest has heard.

SLAIN drugs baron Jim 'Jonty' Johnston was involved in the murder of a loyalist who was killed while carrying £40,000 in cash, an inquest has heard.

LVF member Stephen Warnock had traces of cocaine in his blood when he was killed in Newtownards on September 13, 2002 in his blue BMW, while his three-year-old daughter looked on from the back seat, Belfast Coroners' Court heard yesterday.

The hearing was told that the 35-year-old was riddled with bullets fired by a pillion passenger on a motorbike, said to be driven by Jim Johnston, the Red Hand Commando gangster who was murdered in his £500,000 Crawfordsburn home eight months later in May 2003.

After their deaths, the Assets Recovery Agency confiscated money from the estates of both Warnock and Johnston.

Det Insp Ron Edgar said that Warnock was a member of the LVF, who had no visible means of support. Some £40,000 was recovered from the inside of the vehicle.

The detective said the senior loyalist lived in a £100,000 detached house - which was fitted with reinforced glass and doors.

During yesterday's hearing, Coroner John Leckey asked Warnock's brother, Raymond Warnock, if he had any questions. Mr Warnock asked why no-one had been brought to court or arrested.

"I named in court today ... the driver of the bike as Jim Johnston, who is now dead," he said.

Insp Edgar confirmed one man was arrested in connection with the murder.

The detective also said a 9mm automatic handgun, which was stolen during a burglary in Belfast a number of years earlier, was the murder weapon.

Mr Edgar could not confirm if Warnock's killing was linked to the present loyalist feud.

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