Three men were jailed yesterday for their roles in destroying the getaway car used in the murder of leading loyalist John 'Bonzer' Boreland.
Darren George Thomas John McAllister (35) from Carrs Glen Park in Belfast, 31-year-old Thomas O'Hara, with an address in Kilbirnie in Scotland, and 63-year-old Thomas Pearson, from Rathglynn in Antrim, were convicted of perverting the course of justice.
McAllister was handed a sentence of five years, O'Hara was sentenced to four years and nine months, while Pearson was given a sentence of four years and six months.
Pearson was handed an additional sentence of one year and nine months on a charge of making property available to terrorists, namely the Renault Megane car, bringing his total sentence to six years.
The trio were informed they will serve half their sentences in custody, with the remainder spent on licence when they are released from jail. As they were being led from the dock, friends and family of Mr Boreland, including Andre Shoukri, clapped in the public gallery.
The former UDA man (46) was shot dead in the Ballysillan area of north Belfast by a lone gunman on the evening of Sunday, August 7, 2016.
The victim, who was targeted as he walked home from his local pub, suffered three wounds, with the fatal injury to the top of his head caused by a shotgun being fired at close range.
Sentencing the three men who helped destroy the silver Renault Megane used to transport the gunman to and from the murder scene, Judge David McFarland described the murder as a "cold-blooded assassination carried out in broad daylight on a Belfast street".
The Belfast Crown Court judge also spoke of the impact Mr Boreland's murder has had on his family and friends, and said no-one has been tried for his murder.
The court was told the Megane was seen in the Sunningdale area at the time of the murder.
An eyewitness observed the vehicle doing an 'aggressive U-turn' before driving towards Mr Boreland's home.
Seconds later, a number of shots were fired, and the deceased was found slumped between two cars.
The next day the Megane was picked up on CCTV being driven in convoy with a Nissan Micra. The court heard the Micra was fitted with an insurance tracking device, which showed the vehicle had been driven to Wheeler's Road in the Belfast Hills - the same isolated road where the Megane was found burned out.
Pearson, who owned the Megane, later told police he was approached by people he knew were members of the UDA who told him to provide his vehicle. He left his keys in the ignition on Friday, August 5, and two days later it was used as the getaway car in the murder.
The Megane was then picked up from an "unknown location" and driven to a farmhouse close to Dunmurry where Pearson was working as a painter and decorator.
On August 9, the Megane was picked up and with O'Hara behind the wheel and with McAllister in front in the Nissan, the two cars were driven to an isolated spot in the Belfast Hills where it was set on fire.
The court heard that while O'Hara and McAllister went to Wheelers Road where the Megane was set on fire, "it appears" Pearson remained at the farmhouse. A passer-by noticed the vehicle in flames at the layby and the car was removed from the scene by a scrap metal dealer, who then contacted the PSNI.
Judge David McFarland said: "Each defendant played a different role in perverting the course of justice by the destruction of the vehicle."
When all three of the men were interviewed, they each initially denied involvement.
However, as the interviews progressed and evidence such as CCTV footage was put to them, they made some admissions, the court heard.
Judge McFarland said all three had been involved in the "deliberate destruction of a vehicle used in a brutal murder" which removed forensic links which may have helped to apprehend those involved.