Painter Pearson guilty of providing car used in UDA Boreland murder
A man has been found guilty of providing his car to the UDA, which was used in the murder of prominent loyalist John 'Bonzer' Boreland.
Thomas Boyd Pearson had denied a single charge at his non-jury Belfast Crown Court trial of making property available to terrorists, namely a silver Renault Megane car.
The painter and decorator (63), formerly of Cliftondene Park in north Belfast but now with an address at Rathglynn in Antrim, had pleaded guilty to a charge of perverting the course of justice by burning the Megane after the murder.
Two men - Darren McAllister and Thomas O'Hara - have already pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice over the vehicle.
It was the prosecution case that the silver Megane was seen by witnesses leaving the murder scene at Sunningdale Gardens, north Belfast, on the evening of August 7, 2016. Mr Boreland was found slumped between two cars, one of which was his own Mercedes.
A post mortem examination said he died from "significant head trauma'' caused by a shotgun wound to the head.
Prosecution counsel David 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 from a few metres 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 Megane was later captured on CCTV driving in convoy with a Nissan Micra.
The court heard the Micra was fitted with a tracking device which showed it drove to Wheelers Road in the Belfast hills a few days later, where the Megane was found on fire.
During a ruling yesterday, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said that Pearson told police at interview that an individual came to his door one night and said: "We need your car to do a wee message.''
Pearson later told police that in fact a carload of people had come to his door, and he described them as "sinister''. "In a series of answers, he indicated that these individuals were members of a group," the judge said.
Judge McFarland said Pearson was asked by police if they belonged to a terrorist or proscribed organisation and Pearson replied: "Aye, I'd say they do.''
The judge said: "At this stage of the interview he was confirming his belief that they were members of a group which is either a terrorist group or a proscribed group and regarded members of that group he came into contact with as 'sinister'.
"He confirmed his belief that the request for his car came from somebody very high and, as he described, 'somebody at the very top'.''
But Pearson denied to police that the request for his car had come from the north Belfast UDA, but that it could have come from another area.
The Belfast Recorder concluded: "I am satisfied by the replies given by the defendant to the various questions that at the time he made the vehicle available he knew that it was going to be used for the benefit of a proscribed organisation...his replies indicate his knowledge that it was the Ulster Defence Association.
"Further, he has admitted that the request for the vehicles was "to do a wee message''.
"On the basis of what the defendant said to police, he knew that the vehicle was going to be used for the benefit of a proscribed organisation.
"I am firmly convinced that there were certain facts known to the defendant which would have given him reasonable cause to suspect that his vehicle was going to be used by a proscribed organisation."
Finding Pearson guilty, Judge McFarland released him on continuing bail and said that he would sentence him along with McAllister and O'Hara next month.