Belfast Telegraph

Murder witness relives moment masked man shot him with a pistol

A man has told a murder trial of the moment he was shot and wounded while his friend was blasted with a shotgun and killed.

Stephen Norman Ritchie was giving evidence at the trial of Jamie Alexander Smith (34), who gave his address as Doagh Road, Newtownabbey, and Peter Greer (37), who gave his as Sherwood Road, Bangor.

The men, who had different addresses in Belfast at the time of the shooting on May 13, 2011, deny attempting to kill Mr Ritchie and murdering his 56-year-old friend Dougie Morrison in a flat in Hazelbrook Avenue in Bangor.

They also deny possessing the sawn-off shotgun and 9mm pistol used in the shooting.

Mr Ritchie told Downpatrick Crown Court he had just gone into the kitchen when he heard footsteps behind him and turned to see a short, stockily-built gunman armed with a single-barrelled sawn-off shotgun.

His eyes were bulging from a balaclava hooded mask as if he was scared, Mr Ritchie said, adding that they stood looking at one another for a split second before he heard a bang.

"My legs just left me and I fell to the floor," the witness said.

He added he thought he had been hit by the shotgun, but later discovered he had been wounded by a pistol. Mr Ritchie said he heard "two other bangs and Mr Morrison fell right on top of me... he was looking at me and making a gurgling sound which slowed before it stopped".

Earlier, prosecution QC Liam McCollum claimed one of the alleged getaway cars, a VW Golf, belonged to Greer, while the second, a Honda Civic, was stolen in west Belfast in March.

He also told the jury of seven men and five women that the day before the murder, the Golf was captured on surveillance cameras making a "dry run'' to Bangor and was later seen travelling "in convoy" with the Honda to Newtownards, before returning to Belfast.

Mr McCollum said the evidence would show that both Smith and Greer were "certainly involved".

Greer also owned a silver-coloured VW Golf and on the day before the murder both men were allegedly captured on security footage driving between north Belfast and Bangor.

Mr McCollum further claimed that at one stage the VW car was seen leaving Greer's home and driving in convoy with the stolen Honda Civic to Ards.

On the day of the actual murder, Greer allegedly picked Smith up from his home and drove to Ards.

A short time after the Civic was found burning in the car park of the Somme Heritage Centre, a VW similar to Greer's was seen leaving the town.

But Mr McCollum revealed that when Greer's car was stopped by armed police on Belfast's Ormeau Road, only Smith was in the car.

The key to the burnt-out stolen Honda was found under the seat, which the lawyer said presented a clear and irresistible link between Smith and the car.

Smith, who said the VW belonged to a friend of his called "Pete", claimed that when he got into the car the key was sitting on the driver's seat and he put it in the door panel pocket, but that it must have fallen out. He denied he was pictured in CCTV footage.

Greer made similar "no comment" interviews, although while he admitted the VW Golf was his, maintained after seeing the security footage: "I wasn't there."

Mr McCollum claimed that neither man could provide a logical explanation for their movements.

The trial continues.

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