A leading loyalist and a close associate have had their luxury cars returned by police after the Public Prosecution Service withdrew proceedings.
Newtownards man Adrian Price – leader of the South East Antrim UDA faction in the area – has been reunited with his BMW convertible while his associate has his Maserati back.
The return of seized property case against 51-year-old Price was set for a contest at Newtownards Magistrates Court on Friday but defence counsel Stuart Hindley said there had been “discussions” with the prosecution before court.
He told District Judge Mark Hamill that as a result, the PPS had opted to withdraw proceedings and their lawyer confirmed the development so the cars can be returned.
The top of the range motors, the Maserati Quattro and the soft top BMW to Price were originally seized in March 2020 during raids in Dundonald and Newtownards by the PSNI’s Paramilitary Crime Task Force who were investigating the activities of Price’s faction of the South East Antrim UDA.
Price, who was previously handed a suspended jail sentence for withholding information about the murder of Colin Horner in Bangor, is currently on bail for allegedly assaulting a police officer.
He is also accused and perverting the course of public justice over the same incident in May by removing evidence, namely a baseball bat, from a crime scene.
The charges arise from an incident in Weavers Grange in Ards when officers seized a broken baseball bat during their investigations into allegations of assault and intimidation.
A detective constable said at an earlier hearing that it was reported to cops that a woman and two men had driven into Weavers Grange on May 21 but were confronted by seven men, allegedly including Price and 42-year-old William McCabe, and threatened with a baseball bat.
According to the witnesses, McCabe went into his house and retrieved a firearm which he then allegedly handed to Price who fired it into the air.
Officers investigating that incident had seized a broken baseball bat but the court heard that Price and McCabe allegedly wrestled it from them during a street fight.
“There’s continuing incidents in Weavers Grange,” the cop told the judge who asked if it had a background of paramilitary involvement or organised crime gangs.
The detective told him: “Police believe it’s a paramilitary organisation with a stronghold in Weavers Grange.”
At a High Court bail hearing in July this year, a prosecution barrister said police believe Price is in a "command position" of the South East Antrim UDA's faction based in Newtownards.
She told the court Price has 118 previous convictions, one of which was for withholding information on the murder of UDA rival Colin Horner in Bangor in 2017.