Belfast Telegraph

Accused duo remain on bail over murder linked to loyalist feud

By Staff Reporter

Two alleged killers with "strong link to the UDA" have been back in court over the murder of Colin Horner.

Alan Wilson and Ryan Smyth stood side by side in the dock of Newtownards Magistrates Court yesterday for the brief mention when a prosecution lawyer said "given the early stages" of the police investigation he was seeking an eight-week adjournment.

Defence solicitor John Greer had no objections to the two-month adjournment, so the pair were freed on continuing bail and ordered to return to court on August 24.

Smyth (29), from Windsor Gardens in Bangor, and 28-year-old Wilson, from Ballyrainey Road in Newtownards, are jointly accused of the murder of James Colin Horner on May 28 this year and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life on the same date.

Loyalist Horner (35) was shot dead by a lone gunman moments after he had put his three-year-old son in the back of his car at Sainsbury's car park in Bangor.

The murder has been linked to a feud among rival loyalist factions.

Giving evidence to the court when Smyth first appeared, Detective Sergeant Bush said police believed he had "strong links to the UDA" and that the murder of Mr Horner was connected to the killing of George Gilmore with "mounting tensions in south east Antrim UDA in an ongoing feud".

Despite police objections both men were granted bail at Belfast High Court in separate applications, Smyth just a few days ago and Wilson three weeks ago.

A lawyer said while Wilson was not accused of pulling the trigger or being in the getaway car, it is the Crown case that he "scouted" the victim and phoned the gunman.

Photographic evidence from earlier that day allegedly shows Wilson's car parked near Mr Horner's home, the court heard.

The prosecution claimed Wilson's car was captured on CCTV following Mr Horner's car into Sainsbury's car park, while mobile phone records allegedly show he made a number of calls while the victim was in the supermarket.

Cell site analysis also allegedly links his mobile to the Kerr's Road area between Bangor and Newtownards, where the getaway car was later discovered burnt out.

Last Monday during Smyth's bail application there was a similar claim that cell site analysis places a mobile phone allegedly associated with Smyth in Sainsbury's car park at the time of the killing and a further claim that photographs of Mr Horner and his car were found on the phone.

It is the prosecution case that a yard on South Street in Newtownards was used as a "staging post" in the killers' plan with a claim that "CCTV evidence shows the Mondeo getaway car and a Ford Focus (allegedly used by Wilson to scout the victim) leave these premises about an hour before the murder". Defence lawyers, however, submit there is no direct evidence to link either man to the murder and that the circumstantial case thus far is weak.

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