Police are probing a jailed gangland killer's links to the attempted murder of a convicted drug dealer at the beginning of lockdown.
North Lucas was shot in the shoulder and the leg during an ambush in March near his home on the Ballycreely Road in Comber, Co Down.
The gun attack occurred just weeks after the 52-year-old was freed from prison, having been warned by a fellow inmate to pay a £400,000 debt following police raids on a cannabis farm.
Sunday Life can reveal that the prisoner in question is Peter 'Pistol Pete' Greer, who is serving a life sentence for the 2011 murder of rival drugs boss Dougie Morrison in Bangor.
Although caged for a minimum of 20 years, the 43-year-old continues to exert control over a crime gang based in the north Down area.
"Greer threatened North before he was freed and told him that if he didn't repay £400,000 he would be killed," said a source at Maghaberry jail.
"Although he's locked up, Greer is still linked to a lot of drug dealing in north Down."
Liverpool-born professional hitman and convicted heroin dealer Jamie Smith (41), was the killer who pumped three bullets into Morrison following an argument over drugs turf.
Like Greer, who was the back-up gunman, he is serving life with a minimum 20-year tariff for the murder.
Our source added: "The PSNI know that Peter Greer threatened North to repay the £400,000 while he was in prison. It will only be a matter of time before they come down here to question him."
The gunman who shot North Lucas has been identified as a drug dealer from Ballynahinch with a military background.
Armed with a handgun, he was hiding in bushes at his victim's home, waiting on him returning from a night out. When Lucas arrived he emerged from the hedgerow, firing two shots that struck his target in the shoulder and leg.
He then stood over him and threatened to put a third round in his head unless the debt was paid.
A PSNI spokeswoman said the investigation into the shooting remained live and that the force was treating the incident as an "attempted murder".
Lucas was ordered to pay the £400,000 after a cannabis farm he had been running for a criminal gang was raided by cops in January 2017, resulting in the loss of around £170,000 worth of the drug.
Prior to this, around £230,000 was stolen from the boot of a car parked outside the same property near the Ballymagowan Road on the outskirts of Comber.
Lucas was blamed for the theft, with the missing cash added onto the lost cannabis debt.
In June 2018 he was jailed for two years for running the cannabis factory alongside Christopher Cameron (29), who had an address in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast. His former partner Sylvia Todd was caged for nine months. All three pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis and possessing cannabis with intent to supply.
Police who raided the premises found a sophisticated growing operation that included electric fans, temperature controls set on timers, irrigation, ventilation and extractor systems.
Lucas claimed he had been threatened by armed and masked men into managing the operation and ordered to water the plants under duress.
In 2014 the under-threat dealer had an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years for perverting the course of justice in relation to the murder of Philip Strickland two years earlier.