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Belfast man extradited from the Republic on double murder charge to mount legal bid against case

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The scene at the Bog Meadow, Belfast, where the body of Eddie Burns was discovered

The scene at the Bog Meadow, Belfast, where the body of Eddie Burns was discovered

The scene at the Bog Meadow, Belfast, where the body of Eddie Burns was discovered

A man charged with a double murder in Belfast 13 years ago is to mount a legal bid to have the case thrown out.

Gerard Lagan, 36, is accused of killing Edward Burns and Joe Jones, whose bodies were discovered hours apart on March 12, 2007.

Burns, 36, was found shot in the head at Bog Meadows, close to the Falls Road in the west of the city.

A short time later 38-year-old Jones was discovered battered to death at an alleyway in the Ardoyne district.

Lagan, with an address at Butler Walk in Belfast, was extradited from the Republic of Ireland in October last year.

It emerged on Monday that his lawyers are to challenge the strength of the case against him before it reaches trial.

Belfast Magistrates' Court was told eight witnesses, including police officers and other experts, will be called at a hearing expected to last for three days.

With Lagan still in custody, his solicitor Darragh Mackin pressed for an early preliminary inquiry.

Proceedings were adjourned for a week to check possible dates.

Outside court Mr Mackin confirmed: "We are seeking a preliminary investigation because we feel there is insufficient evidence to send this case for trial."

During a previous hearing it was claimed that Lagan was involved in luring the victims to their deaths.

Mobile telephone calls, cell-site analysis and eye-witness evidence allegedly links him to the murders as part of a joint enterprise with other suspects.

The prosecution contended that within hours of the killings he crossed the border and began a new life in the Republic of Ireland.

Burns was shot after receiving a phone call and leaving his home, telling an acquaintance that someone needed help but that he had a bad feeling.

Another man believed to have been at the scene of the killing was shot in the neck with the same gun before fleeing the scene and getting a taxi to hospital, the court was told.

Lagan is not suspected of being the gunman in either attack.

Defence lawyers have stressed the case against him is circumstantial, with no forensic evidence linking him to either murder scene.

Assertions that he left behind a life in Belfast to move to the Republic after the killings is also disputed.

All submissions will now come under further judicial scrutiny when the preliminary inquiry gets underway.

Belfast Telegraph