Irish gangster Robbie Lawlor was driven to his assassination by a senior member of a well-known crime family, the High Court was told on Wednesday.
A judge was also told that two people suspected of involvement in the killing in north Belfast have now left the island.
Details emerged as one of the men charged with the murder was refused compassionate bail to visit his newborn child.
Lawlor (36) was gunned down outside Adrian Holland’s home on Etna Drive in the Ardoyne area on April 4 last year.
According to police, a gunman emerged from the property and opened fire in broad daylight, shooting the underworld boss in the head and body.
Lawlor, originally from Dublin, had been heavily involved in a bitter dispute between rival Drogheda-based factions.
Previous courts were told he may have travelled to Northern Ireland because he feared he was going to be attacked as part of a deadly drugs feud.
But his assassination had already been commissioned three weeks earlier at a meeting in a Sligo hotel attended by an international drugs dealer, it has been alleged.
Neither Holland nor 45-year-old co-defendant Patrick Teer, of Thornberry Hill in Belfast, are accused of being the gunman.
Instead, they have been charged as part of a joint enterprise to murder, based on their alleged involvement in events surrounding the shooting.
As Holland sought temporary release from custody, a defence barrister described the case against him as “a masterpiece of circumstantial vagueness”.
Joe Brolly told the court his client was at a relative’s home on the day of the murder.
According to counsel, the victim was brought to the location of the shooting by a man who is part of a well-known crime gang in the Republic.
“He drove Mr Lawlor to the scene. Mr Lawlor was assassinated as he got out of (his) car,” the barrister contended.
That man has been interviewed and released by police, it was claimed, but his current whereabouts are unknown.
Mr Brolly also said a previous court heard two of the people suspected of involvement in the murder had absconded.
“As I understand it, they are believed to be a gunman and potentially someone who was involved in the getaway,” he added.
Natalie Pinkerton, prosecuting, clarified when they were thought to have moved overseas.
“Since the date that Mr Teer and Mr Holland were charged for the murder, two persons have left the island of Ireland,” she said.
Holland wanted out of prison to spend a number of hours with his partner and newborn child.
Denying the application, however, Mr Justice Humphreys ruled: “I cannot be satisfied that conditions I would impose in relation to this visit would be complied with.”