Belfast Telegraph

Man 'directed gunman towards Colin Horner outside supermarket'

A man accused of murder outside a supermarket in Northern Ireland "directed" the gunman to his target, police said.

Colin Horner, 35, was stalked for up to 11 days before he was shot dead while putting his three-year-old son into his car in Bangor, Co Down, last May, a court was told.

Joseph Blair, 34, was allegedly a passenger in a "surveillance" car which sat for hours outside Mr Horner's home in the seaside town on the day of his death and followed him as he visited local shops, investigators said.

Blair is suspected of calling in the shooter while the victim was returning to his car in a busy Sainsbury's car park.

A lone assailant fired five shots at him but has never been caught, a senior detective said.

Blair allegedly made a six-minute call to the gunman beforehand and mobile phone analysis and DNA evidence from the car was used to link him to the crime, the detective inspector told Newtownards Magistrates' Court on Friday.

He said: "The role that this individual played, we believe, was that as the passenger he would have directed the gunman to the scene."

There was an increased security presence as the accused, from Shackleton Walk in Newtownards, was led into the dock flanked by prison officers.

He was stoutly-built, slouched in his chair and wore a grey t-shirt and unbuttoned cardigan, nodding to confirm he understood the charges.

Blair is accused of murdering Mr Horner and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

On the day of the attack, Mr Horner had travelled from his home to a nearby convenience store on the Rathgael Road.

The detective added: "Police have evidence to show that the black Focus was directly behind the victim during that time.

"Mr Blair makes a six-minute phone call, police would say to the gunman to direct them that the IP (injured person or party) is on the move."

The Ford Focus carrying Blair was just 30ft away when the shooting was later carried out, police said. It left the car park two minutes after the attack to pick up the gunman some miles away. The attack car had been torched.

Blair's barrister summarised the case against his client, in which he is accused of being a passenger in the black Ford Focus "in convoy with the injured person because it was carrying out surveillance work".

He said the mobile phone was central to the prosecution case but added it had been used by someone else in the period before the killing.

Two men aged 28 and 29 have already been charged with the murder.

Police can prove the movements of the mobile phone attributed to Blair through various cell site locations in close proximity to the victim when he was on the move on the afternoon of his death, the court was told.

His DNA was retrieved from the seat belt buckle of the passenger seat of the Focus.

District judge Austin Kennedy refused bail and Blair was remanded in custody until next month.

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