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Attempted murder charges against loyalists withdrawn

By Alan Erwin

Published 04/09/2015

John Boreland and Andre Shoukri
John Boreland and Andre Shoukri

All charges have been dropped against three loyalists who were jointly accused of trying to kill high-profile rivals in a north Belfast gun attack.

John Bunting, Darren McAllister and John Howcroft had faced prosecution for the alleged attempted murder of John 'Bonzer' Boreland and Andre Shoukri.

The three defendants were also accused of having a firearm connected to the suspected shooting in August last year.

At Belfast Magistrates Court yesterday a prosecution lawyer confirmed: "These matters are withdrawn."

No further details were given on the decision not to proceed with the case.

Bunting (48) from Stonebridge Avenue in Conlig, Co Down, McAllister (32) of Alliance Road, and Howcroft (47) from Formby Park - both in Belfast - were not present in court to hear the outcome.

All three men had denied involvement in any shooting, insisting the allegations were made up.

Boreland and Shoukri claimed they came under gun attack as they drove through Carr's Glen Park in the Ballysillan area.

A previous court heard shots were allegedly fired after they got out of their car to confront of a group of men who had thrown an object at the vehicle.

It had been claimed that Bunting gave orders to "get the pieces" before gunfire was directed at the fleeing pair.

Boreland was later treated in hospital for a leg wound.

Defence lawyers previously stressed their clients' work involved dealing with a post-conflict group attempting to clean up north Belfast.

Bunting was said to have played a part in a cross-community project visited by US President Barack Obama during his trip to the city in 2013.

The case against all three defendants had been listed to fix a date for a preliminary enquiry hearing.

Following the prosecution announcement, their barristers Mark Farrell and Michael Boyd confirmed they had no objection to the decision.

A PPS spokesperson said: "A prosecution can only be brought if the evidential test for prosecution is satisfied.

"This means that there must be sufficient evidence available to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction.

"In this case, once a full police file was received and thoroughly examined, the PPS decided that there was insufficient evidence to meet the evidential test.

"This decision was reached after careful consideration of all evidence and information available."

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