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Court overturns bail of man charged with George Gilmore murder due to 'ongoing feud'

By Alan Erwin

A High Court judge on Monday overturned the granting of bail to one of the men charged with murdering prominent loyalist George Gilmore.

Brian McLean, 35, is to remain in custody amid claims he helped lure the victim into a deadly trap during a paramilitary conflict in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

Mr Justice Treacy ruled: "Given the circumstances surrounding the ongoing feud in the area it would not be appropriate to release this applicant on bail."

Gilmore, 44, died after being hit by bullets fired at his car on the Woodburn housing estate in broad daylight on March 13.

He had been goaded into chasing his alleged murderers, the court heard.

The attack was part of a year-long dispute between Gilmore's grouping and the UDA's south east Antrim unit which has cost £1m to police, according to detectives.

McLean, from The Birches in Carrickfergus, and alleged gunman Samuel David McMaw, 28, of Starbog Road, Kilwaughter, are jointly charged with the murder.

Both men face further counts of attempting to murder two of Gilmore's associates and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. They deny all the offences.

Police and the Public Prosecution Service mounted an appeal after McLean was granted magistrates' bail last week.

Gilmore had been returning with others from attending court in support of friends accused of trying to kill a pub doorman at the Royal Oak bar in the town two days previously.

His son, George Junior, was said to be travelling in convoy in a second vehicle.

Two men, allegedly identified by witnesses as McMaw and McLean, were spotted standing in the Cherry Walk area.

Prosecutors claim they began shouting and making hand and arm gestures in a bid to provoke the Gilmores into a pursuit.

McMaw was then allegedly seen crouch down in an alleyway, attempting to pull a balaclava over his face and brandishing a gun.

As Gilmore tried to speed off seven shots were fired from a 9mm pistol.

One bullet went through the windscreen, striking and fatally wounding the loyalist.

His car continued on, mounting a pavement before crashing into a wall.

McLean has been charged with murder on a joint enterprise basis, a Crown lawyer confirmed.

Defence counsel Paul Bacon argued that the identification evidence against his client is weak and inconsistent.

He refused to concede McLean was arguably even at the scene.

"It's hard to see how this could be considered to be a planned attack," Mr Bacon added.

But based on a detailed report of the alleged attack, the judge held a prima facie case had been established and refused bail.

Referring to the prosecution case, Mr Justice Treacy said: "The two of them, according to some of the evidence, were both goading the injured parties for the purpose of luring them into some sort of trap which enabled one of them to discharge a firearm with fatal results."

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