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Colin Horner murder: Two accused with 'strong link to UDA' appear in court

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Loyalist Colin Horner who was shot dead in Bangor pictured at the funeral of Geordie Gilmore in Carrickfergus in March this year

Loyalist Colin Horner who was shot dead in Bangor pictured at the funeral of Geordie Gilmore in Carrickfergus in March this year

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist Colin Horner who was shot dead in Bangor pictured at the funeral of Geordie Gilmore in Carrickfergus in March this year

Two alleged killers with "strong link to the UDA" were back in court on Friday over the murder of Colin Horner.

Alan Wilson and Ryan Smyth stood side by side in the dock of Newtownards Magistrates Court for the extremely brief mention when a prosecution lawyer said "given the early stages" of the police investigation, he was seeking an eight week adjournment.

Both men are charged with murder and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Defence solicitor John Greer had no objections to the two month adjournment so the pair were freed on continuing bail and ordered to come back to court on 24 August.

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Alan Wilson, who is charged with the murder of Colin Horner, leaving Newtownards Court.

Alan Wilson, who is charged with the murder of Colin Horner, leaving Newtownards Court.

Alan Wilson, who is charged with the murder of Colin Horner, leaving Newtownards Court.

Smyth (29), from Windsor Gardens in Bangor and 28-year-old Wilson, from the Ballyrainey Road in Ards, are jointly accused of the murder of James Colin Horner on May 28 this year and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life on the same date.

Mr Horner (35) was shot dead by a lone gunman moments after he had put his three-year-old son in the back of his car at the Sainsburys car park in Bangor.

The murder has been linked to a feud among rival loyalist factions.

Giving evidence to the court when Smyth first appeared, DS Bush said police believe he has "strong links to the UDA" and that the murder of Mr Horner was connected to the killing of George Gilmore with "mounting tensions in south east Antrim UDA in an ongoing feud."

Despite police objections, both men were granted bail at Belfast High Court in separate applications, Smyth just a few days ago and Wilson three weeks ago.

A lawyer said that, while Wilson is not accused of pulling the trigger or being in the getaway car, it is the Crown case that he "scouted" the victim and phoned the gunman.

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Ryan Smyth, who is charged with the murder of Colin Horner, leaving Newtownards Court on Friday, June 30, 2017.

Ryan Smyth, who is charged with the murder of Colin Horner, leaving Newtownards Court on Friday, June 30, 2017.

Ryan Smyth, who is charged with the murder of Colin Horner, leaving Newtownards Court on Friday, June 30, 2017.

Photographic evidence from earlier that day allegedly shows Wilson's car parked near Mr Horner's home on the morning of the attack, the court heard.

The prosecution claimed that Wilson's car was captured on CCTV  following Mr Horner's car into Sainsbury's car park while mobile phone records allegedly show he made a number of calls while the victim was in the supermarket.

Cell site analysis also allegedly links his mobile to the Kerr's Road area between Bangor and Newtownards where the getaway car was later discovered burnt out.

Last Monday during Smyth's bail application, there was a similar claim that cell site analysis places a mobile phone allegedly associated with Smyth in Sainsbury's car park at the time of the killing and a further claim that photographs of Mr Horner and his car were found on the phone.

It is the prosecution case that a yard on South Street in Ards was used as a "staging post" in the killers' plan with a claim that "CCTV evidence shows the Mondeo getaway car and a Ford Focus (allegedly used by Wilson to scout the victim) leave these premises about an hour before the murder.”

Defence lawyers, however, submit there is no direct evidence to link either man to the murder and that the circumstantial case thus far is weak.

Belfast Telegraph