Belfast Telegraph

Man charged with murdering prominent loyalist fails to secure bail

One of the men charged with murdering prominent loyalist George Gilmore has failed in a new bid to secure High Court bail.

Lawyers for Brian McLean, 35, argued that he should be released because of the alleged unreliability of key prosecution witnesses to the killing in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

It was disclosed that two of Gilmore's associates who say McLean was alongside the gunman had previously claimed they were abducted and beaten as part of the same paramilitary feud.

Weeks later the pair withdrew those statements of complaint, a judge was told.

Defence barrister Paul Bacon contended: "This is one faction conspiring against another."

But Madam Justice McBride ruled that the change of circumstances was not sufficient for bail to be granted.

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 lured into a trap by his alleged murderers who goaded him into a chase, detectives claim.

The attack was part of a year-long dispute between Gilmore's grouping and the UDA's south east Antrim unit said to have cost more than £1m to police.

McLean, of The Birches in Carrickfergus, is charged with murder along with the alleged gunman, 28-year-old Samuel David McMaw, from Starbog Road in Kilwaughter.

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.

Gilmore was gunned down as he returned 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 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 up to eight shots were fired from a 9mm pistol.

One bullet went through the windscreen, striking the loyalist in the back of the head.

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

McLean, known as 'Scotch Brian', is charged with the murder on a joint enterprise basis.

But his legal team claimed two of Gilmore's associates who identified him as being at the scene are unreliable.

These two men have retracted separate statements that they were kidnapped and attacked by members of the UDA in south east Antrim last year, the court heard.

However, the judge pointed out that two others allegedly link McLean to the shooting, including an independent witness who told police they heard someone shouting "It's Scotch Brian".

Denying bail, she added: "This is a case where there's an ongoing feud and... a serious risk of further offending."

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