Belfast Telegraph

Alleged accomplice of murdered gang boss has charges dropped

Released: James Carlisle
Released: James Carlisle

By Paul Higgins

Charges against an alleged burglar and co-accused of murdered mobster Malcolm McKeown were dropped by the prosecution yesterday.

With James Carlisle appearing at Lisburn Magistrates Court via video-link from prison, a prosecuting lawyer told the court the charge against the 38-year-old was being withdrawn.

Carlisle, from Finulagh Road in Dungannon, was charged with aggravated burglary of a house on the Beanstown Road in Lisburn on November 14 last year.

The PPS decision yesterday brings an end to the case as the court heard that Carlisle's co-accused McKeown "has since been murdered".

Previous courts heard claims how the victim, a man in his 50s, was alone at home when a van containing "two or three men" pulled up outside his home.

"When he went out to speak to them he was punched in the gut, causing him to be confused and disoriented," said a police officer when Carlisle asked for bail last August, adding that he was then "bundled into the house and cable-tied by his hands and feet".

While he lay face down on the living room floor the gang ransacked his house, demanding to know if he had any guns or money before stealing a box of jewellery, said the officer.

They sped off when the man's niece and elderly mother returned home, and while the police pursued the van officers "were unable to catch them".

During the pursuit, however, the gang ditched the van and a high vis jacket became snared on a barbed wire fence as the gang made off and Carlisle was arrested after his DNA was uncovered on the collar of the jack.

Arrested and interviewed, the officer said Carlisle "denied any involvement" in the aggravated burglary but couldn't remember where he was that specific day.

Carlisle claimed his DNA could have got on the high vis jacket "at some point as Travellers attended near where he lived and he had tried on high vis vests and welly boots".

McKeown (54), from Meadowvale in Waringstown, had been charged after his DNA was allegedly discovered on the cable ties used to bind the victim.

On August 19 the crime gang boss and drug dealer was shot six times in the head and body at a petrol station in his home town. Two men are currently in custody accused of his murder.

In court yesterday Carlisle's defence counsel said he was on bail for another matter and District Judge Paul Copeland said given that position, he could see "no reason for his further detention" and ordered that Carlisle should be released.

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