Belfast Telegraph

Two men in dock as court hears murder is linked to drugs feud

Murdered: Malcolm McKeown
Murdered: Malcolm McKeown
Family and friends of Malcolm McKeown attend court as two men, Andrew Martin and Jake O'Brien, appear charged with his murder
Family and friends of Malcolm McKeown attend court as two men, Andrew Martin and Jake O'Brien, appear charged with his murder
Andrew Martin
Jake O'Brien

By Gillian Halliday

The murder of Malcolm McKeown is part of an "long-standing and ongoing feud" between criminal groups linked to drugs, a court has heard.

Gangster McKeown (54) was found dead in his vehicle close to a petrol station in Waringstown last Monday. He had been shot multiple times.

Yesterday two Lurgan men, Jake O'Brien (25) from Rectory Park and Andrew Martin (24) of Trasna Way, were remanded in custody charged with the father-of-three's murder.

A heavy police presence was in place for the hearing at Lisburn Magistrates Court, which took place two days after the Waringstown man's funeral in Lurgan.

McKeown's loved ones sat in the public gallery as the pair - who deny the charges - were brought into the dock.

A detective inspector told the court that McKeown, a well-known criminal, had been found slumped in his car, having been shot six times.

McKeown had been targeted after leaving the station's store, the officer explained. Police were alerted to the scene after two teenage boys found his body in the car.

The detective told District Judge Rosemary Watters that evidence obtained in the ongoing investigation includes CCTV footage and, in the case against O'Brien, DNA evidence from a discarded black latex glove.

The glove, which police say bears firearm particles and a "full, complete DNA profile" of O'Brien, was recovered close to a vehicle which police believe was used in the killing.

Police allege that Martin parked his Volkswagen Golf in a street and then got into a dark saloon-type vehicle, which investigators claim was a Volkswagen Passat that was observed parked in the vicinity of the killing for nearly an hour before the attack took place.

A short time later emergency services responded to a report of a Volkswagen Passat on fire and, according to the detective, two men were observed on CCTV running away after the vehicle was set alight, allegedly making off in Martin's car.

Martin was later stopped by police on an unrelated matter and, when the officer's body-worn camera footage was reviewed, boiler suits were seen in the boot, the court was informed.

Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan, acting on behalf of O'Brien, made a bail application, saying there was "no forensic link" connecting his client to the "scene of the murder by way of DNA".

Firearms and a large quantity of cash were seized from O'Brien's address after his arrest, the detective told the court.

The detective added that police were "vehemently opposed" to O'Brien's bail.

"The murder is connected to a long-standing and ongoing feud between criminal groups connected to drugs in the Lurgan area," she said.

The officer said she also feared reprisal attacks between the groups, revealing that O'Brien had expressed concern to police that he is "under threat" following the murder.

The court heard the murder weapon has not yet been found.

O'Brien's bail application was refused and the pair were remanded in custody by the District Judge to reappear via video-link at Craigavon courthouse on September 20.

Following proceedings, shouts were made from the public gallery directed at the dock. However, the matter was peacefully resolved by police officers.

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