Belfast Telegraph

Two loyalists accused over 'rival gun attack' are released on bail

Two loyalists accused of trying to kill high-profile rivals in a north Belfast gun attack are to be released from custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Bail was granted to John Bunting and Darren McAllister on charges of attempting to murder John 'Bonzer' Boreland and Andre Shoukri.

But amid tight conditions imposed by Mr Justice Burgess, the defendants have been banned from entering Belfast.

They were also ordered to have no contact with either alleged victim or their co-accused, John Howcroft.

Boreland and Shoukri claim they came under gun attack as they drove through Carr's Glen Park in the Ballysillan area on August 20.

Prosecutors said shots were fired after they got of their car to confront of a group of men who had thrown an object at the vehicle.

Bunting is alleged to have given the order "get the pieces" before his two co-accused produced handguns.

According to Shoukri's account to police Bunting then instructed: "Right, do them."

At that point Howcroft allegedly got down on one knee and fired two shoots at the pair before they started to flee, the court was previously told.

Boreland was later treated in hospital for a leg wound.

Bunting, 47, from Stonebridge Avenue in Conlig, Co Down, McAllister, 32, of Alliance Road, and Howcroft, 46, from Formby Park - both in Belfast - each face charges of attempted murder and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

All three accused deny involvement in any shooting incident, claiming the allegations have been made up.

With Howcroft already released on bail to live at an address in Ballyclare, Co Antrim, lawyers for his two co-accused returned to court seeking the same outcome.

Defence barrister Mark Farrell described both men as community workers involved with a post-conflict group attempting to clean up north Belfast.

He provided "glowing" references setting out Bunting's role in cross-community projects.

Referring to the US Presidential visit to Belfast last year, Mr Farrell said: "He was involved in some community work which led to President Obama visiting one of the projects."

Mr Justice Burgess acknowledged the references, some from individuals known to him, were "extensive and detailed".

Granting bail to both accused, he ordered McAllister to stay at an address in Ballymoney.

They are barred from Belfast, must surrender mobile phones and abide by night-time curfews.

A relative of each defendant also agreed to lodge £1,000 cash sureties to secure their release. ends

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