Double murder charge man crossed border for new life, court told
A man allegedly involved in a double killing in Belfast 12 years ago immediately crossed the border to start a new life in the Republic of Ireland, the High Court heard on Tuesday.
Gerard Lagan (35) is charged with the murders of 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 in an alleyway in the Ardoyne district.
Lagan, with an address at Butler Walk in Belfast, faces prosecution after being extradited to Northern Ireland in October.
During a bail application prosecutors claimed he was involved in luring the victims to their deaths.
A judge was told mobile telephone calls, cell-site analysis and eye-witness evidence allegedly links him to the killings as part of a joint enterprise with other suspects.
Opposing Lagan's bid to be released from custody, a Crown lawyer contended that within hours of the murders he stopped using his phone and headed over the border with two other men central to the investigation.
"It's our case the three left the jurisdiction together, resided together and effectively started a new life in the Republic of Ireland," she said.
The court heard 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.
"We say it was this telephone call that lured him to Bog Meadows," the lawyer submitted.
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 heard.
Lagan is not suspected of being the gunman in either attack, it was confirmed.
However, counsel claimed he then phoned the second victim, Jones, and got him to go to Elmfield Street, where the fatal assault was carried out.
Residents reported hearing the apparent sound of a shovel hitting against a wall and hard surface, along with two men laughing, she disclosed.
Later that morning Jones' severely beaten body was found in an alleyway.
A bank card belonging to one of Lagan's relatives was said to have been located a few feet away.
With the case against the accused described as circumstantial, it was confirmed that he is currently the sole defendant.
Lagan's barrister, Neil Fox, disputed prosecution assertions that he left behind a life in Belfast to move to the Republic after the murders.
He said his client had been travelling back and forward to work in Dublin from 2005.
Mr Fox also insisted Lagan made no attempt to flee back in 2007 when the evidence was put to him back during an earlier investigation by Irish authorities.
Two years later prosecutors in the Republic decided not to bring charges against him.
Adjourning the bail application, Lord Justice Treacy requested more information on Lagan's work and travel arrangements in the period after the murders.
Belfast Telegraph Digital