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Murder of Irish gangster Robbie Lawlor in Belfast planned at Sligo hotel meeting, court told


Robbie Lawlor

Robbie Lawlor

Robbie Lawlor

The murder of Irish gangland boss Robbie Lawlor in north Belfast was allegedly commissioned at a meeting in a Sligo hotel, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors said the underworld figure moved north of the border because he feared he was going to be attacked.

But it was claimed that a plan to lure him to his death had already been authorised at a gathering attended by an international drugs dealer three weeks earlier.

New details emerged as bail was refused to one of two men charged with the murder on April 4 this year.

Patrick Teer, 45, from Thornberry Hill in Belfast, played an instrumental role in preparation for the assassination and helped to dispose of evidence in the aftermath, it was alleged.

Lawlor, 36, was shot dead outside co-accused Adrian Holland's house on Etna Drive in the Ardyone district.

According to police he had gone there following a pre-arranged appointment to collect cash.

A gunman emerged from the property and opened fire in broad daylight.

Lawlor was shot in the head and body, and died at the scene.

Crown lawyer Natalie Pinkerton said the attack formed part of an ongoing drugs feud which has claimed three lives in the last year.

Originally from Dublin, Lawlor was heavily involved in a bitter dispute between rival Drogheda-based factions.

He had been linked to the abduction and killing of 17-year-old Keane Mulready-Woods in January this year.

"It is believed he travelled to this jurisdiction a short time before the murder as he believed an attack was going to be carried out," Ms Pinkerton said.

The unidentified gunman escaped in one of two cars parked in the area as suspected getaway vehicles, the court heard.

Evidence in the case centres on telephone cell site analysis, ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) and CCTV inquiries.

Teer and 37-year-old Holland were charged as part of a joint enterprise, based on their alleged involvement in events surrounding the killing.

"While the murder occurred on April 4, it is thought that the plan to kill Mr Lawlor was commissioned on March 16," counsel submitted.

On that date, she claimed, Holland was staying at the Sligo Park Hotel and met with an unnamed international drugs dealer connected to the feud.

Teer had allegedly paid for his co-accused's accommodation.

On the prosecution's case he was also involved in moving a stolen Volkswagen Scirocco and an Audi A3 into the Arydone area before the killing.

Although there is no suggestion Teer carried out the shooting, Ms Pinkerton contended that "without (his) the considerable and concerted efforts this murder would not have been possible".

It was also alleged that later on the day of the shooting he drove Holland back to Sligo.

"During that journey his phone is looking at videos (posted on YouTube) celebrating the murder of Mr Lawlor," counsel said.

Defence barrister Sean Devine countered there had already been plenty of footage posted online about a man widely believed to be responsible for the "gruesome" killing of Keane Mulready-Woods.

"That child was chopped up into bits and Mr Lawlor's flip flops were found along with the deceased's body, which was completely dismembered," Mr Devine added.

"Mr Lawlor's nickname was 'Robbie Ruthless', he was a well-known character in Irish gangster society by many people."

Opposing bail, Ms Pinkerton said more than 20 suspects have identified as part of the ongoing police investigation - most of them living outside Northern Ireland.

But Mr Devine argued that Teer has never been in trouble before, and had only been charged based on an association with his co-accused.

"He was the only actor in this whole production who didn't have a burner phone," the barrister submitted.

"This is a tenuous case that is wholly dependent upon my client's awareness of what was going on.

"It does seem obvious from the way in which this matter was outlined that Mr Teer did not knowingly play any part in these events."

Denying bail, however, Mr Justice Maguire held there was a risk of further offences.

He cited the background of feuding crime groups suspected of carrying out a series of murders.

The judge said: "There's a ruthlessness about the behaviour of these groups which would strike any reasonable people who listened to the account of what allegedly occurred in this case."

Belfast Telegraph