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Ex-UDA boss Boreland 'executed' outside home by loyalist paramilitaries, court hears


Senior paramilitary John Boreland was murdered with a shotgun outside his north Belfast home (PSNI/PA)

Senior paramilitary John Boreland was murdered with a shotgun outside his north Belfast home (PSNI/PA)

Senior paramilitary John Boreland was murdered with a shotgun outside his north Belfast home (PSNI/PA)

A former senior UDA figure was "executed'' outside his north Belfast home by loyalist paramilitaries a court heard on Monday.

John 'Bonzer' Boreland was hit three times from a shotgun close to his home at Sunningdale Gardens in August 2016.

The details of his murder were revealed as Thomas Boyd Pearson went on trial on Monday at Belfast Crown Court.

The 63-year-old, formerly of Cliftondene Park in north Belfast, but now with an address at Rathglynn in Antrim, denies a single charge of making property available to terrorists, namely a silver Renault Megane car which was used by the killers in the murder.

Two men - Darren McAllister and Thomas O'Hara - have already pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by burning the silver Megane after the murder. They are awaiting sentence.

Members of Mr Boreland's family sat in the public gallery as the trial started along with Andre Shoukri, the UDA's former brigadier in north Belfast and a close friend of the deceased.

Prosecution counsel David McDowell QC told the opening day of Pearson's non-jury trial that at around 9.45pm on the night of Sunday, August 7, 2016, witnesses reported hearing a number of shots being fired and a car speeding away from the scene.

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CCTV footage recovered from Sunningdale Close showed a silver Renault Megane driving along Sunningdale Gardens and was identified by an expert as a Mark II model.

Mr McDowell said a witness described how the Megane performed an "aggressive U-turn when it reached the junction of Sunningdale Gardens and Sunningdale Grove before driving back up Sunningdale Gardens.

Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland heard that a "few seconds later there were two loud bangs''.

The body of Mr Boreland was found slumped beside his black Mercedes car.

A post mortem examination said the victim had died from "significant head trauma'' caused by a shotgun wound to the head.

Mr McDowell said that according to the autopsy, Mr Boreland was shot three times - once to the left arm, one round hit him in the chest and the third was to the "front and top of the head caused by a shotgun being fired at close range which caused the fatal injury''.

The senior prosecutor added: "The implication is that this was an execution''.

The court heard that on the morning of Monday, August 8, Thomas Boyd Pearson drove a silver Renault Megane, registration number GJZ 4870, to Derriaghy Road where he was carrying out a decorating job.

The same day police issued an appeal for information in relation to three vehicles that had been seen leaving the scene of the murder, one of which was a silver Renault Megane.

Mr McDowell said that the same day, Pearson asked the owner of the house at Derriaghy Road if he could leave the Megane at her property overnight as he couldn't get it started.

The same evening a Nissan Micra, registration number RCZ 8594, was driven from Carrs Glen Park, where Darren McAllister lived, to Derriaghy Road and then straight back to north Belfast via Cliftondene Park where Pearson then lived.

The prosecution counsel told Belfast Crown Court: "We know this because, as part of the terms of an insurance policy, a tracker device had been inserted into the Micra.''

The Renault Megane was collected from that address the next morning and driven to Wheelers Road in the Belfast hills "where it was set on fire''.

Mr McDowell told the court: "The route was able to be identified by the tracker in the Micra. Again, it was driven from Carrs Glen Park, where Darren McAllister lived, to Cliftondene Park where Pearson lived and then on to Derriaghy Road arriving at 8.48 am.

The court heard that the Micra had stopped at the Maxol garage in Kingsway, Dunmurry, where petrol and a lighter had been bought.

According to the tracker, the Micra drove to Wheelers Road and at 9.35 am a woman driving in the area spotted the Megane car on fire and called the Fire and Rescue Service.

The car was later seized by police who discovered that on March 17, 2016 it had been sold by a casual car dealer to three men who called to his home.

The car dealer said he recognised one of the men as he had bought a car from him back in November 2015 for his daughter.

Mr McDowell said: "That car, a Honda Jazz, led police to Thomas Pearson.''

Pearson was arrested on September 13, 2016 at his north Belfast home. Two mobile phones was also seized during a search of the property.

He said that he volunteered for Duncairn Community Partnership, a cross-community group and had been threatened because he worked there.

Asked about cars, Pearson told detectives that he drove a small Mercedes which he owned for a few weeks and cost him £400.

Before that he said he owned a blue Volkswagen Sharan but made no mention of the silver Renault Megane car.

He was asked about a witness statement he had made to police on August 11, 2016, and confirmed he had driven another car to a painting job, a Renault Megane, although he claimed he only had it a couple of weeks before and bought it from a man in a bar in north Belfast.

Later, he denied that he was one of three males who had gone to a casual car dealer to buy it.

He said that Darrent McAllister had picked him up from the painting job on the Monday night and had driven back the next morning, Tuesday, August 9, and that there had been someone in the car with them who he said he did not know.

Pearson said that he told Darren McAllister to scrap the Megane car as it was no use.

The court heard Pearson was shown CCTV footage from outside the house at Derriaghy Road which showed the Megane being driven out onto the road on the Tuesday morning.

At the beginning of his next interview with detectives, Mr McDowell said that a prepared statement was read out on his behalf.

It read: "Em, I'd nothing to do with this murder, I had no idea that my car was going to be used for anything illegal, events have clearly unfolded that have shown me that I have been used by sinister individuals.

"This is a matter of huge regret for me but unfortunately the reality of life is that I cannot risk my safety or more importantly the safety of my family by going into anymore detail regarding how I have allowed myself to be used in such a way.''

Pearson told detectives that he handed over his car because he was "scared''. He said that somebody came to him saying: "We need your car for to do a wee message which had happened weeks before but he would not "name names''.

He said there was a "car load of them'' and they came to his door one night. They didn't threaten him as such but said "we need it....a lend of your car''. When asked when that was to happen, he replied: "They just said we'll come and we'll let you know.

Pearson estimated that they had come back a few days before the murder actually happened. He said that he was "himming and haaing about what to do'' and that the man said to him: "You better do the right thing here''.

He told detectives that he thought that if he didn't do it "something might happen to me'' so he said: "Well if that is the case you may take it''. They said they would call up later for the keys and claimed he had no other knowledge as to when or what was going to happen.

When asked by detectives if they belonged to a specific group, he said: "I'd say they do'' but refused to say what group. His solicitor confirmed that Pearson was referring to "an illegal organisation''.

During a further police interview, detectives put it to Pearson that the person who threatened him could have been a mere foot soldier from the organisation.

Pearson replied: "Well, I would say it came from the very top, the top of the tree''.

Asked if it came from a high level in north Belfast UDA, he said: "I know it came from a high level but I don't know whether it was north Belfast or some other area.''

He wouldn't confirm to detectives that it was the UDA but when asked whether if it was terrorists he was in fear of, he said: "Aye, probably, yes''.

It was then confirmed that he meant terrorists from the loyalist community within Belfast, add Mr McDowell.

At hearing.

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