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Belfast man accused in Robbie Lawlor killing must remain in custody

Adrian Holland was denied bail again over his alleged involvement in the gangland shooting in north Belfast in 2020

Alan ErwinBelfast Telegraph

A man charged with the murder of Irish crime boss Robbie Lawlor must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Adrian Holland, 39, was denied bail again over his alleged involvement in the gangland shooting in north Belfast in April 2020.

Despite defence claims that Holland is being wrongly prosecuted for a contract killing plotted and carried out by a three-man assassination squad, Mr Justice O’Hara held that he still has a case to answer.

“The risks which led to bail being refused on a number of occasions previously remain,” he said.

Lawlor, 36, was gunned down as part of a violent feud between rival criminal factions.

The court heard that prior to his death he is believed to have shot and paralysed a boss in the Drogheda-based Maguire gang and carried out the gruesome murder of teenager Cian Mulready-Woods.

Lawlor was said to have moved across the border into an apartment in south Belfast amid fears of an attack on his life.

But members of the Limerick-based McCarthy-Dundon gang were allegedly hired to kill him, with a 50,000 euro cash payment made for services rendered.

In a theory advanced by Holland’s legal team, a three-man cell travelled to Northern Ireland to plan and execute the murder.

CCTV records back claims that Lawlor was lured to the door of his so-called safe house on April 1 so the gunman could get sight of him for the first time.

Three days after the alleged identification process, he was gunned down in broad daylight outside Holland's home at Etna Drive in the city’s Ardoyne district.

Neither Holland nor 47-year-old co-defendant Patrick Teer, of Thornberry Hill in Belfast, are suspected of carrying out the shooting.

Instead, they have been charged as part of a joint enterprise to murder, based on their alleged involvement in the preparation.

Holland’s barrister, Joe Brolly, contended that the three-man team was intercepted by police following the shooting but then released and allowed to leave Northern Ireland.

By contrast, counsel argued, the case against his client is “perilously weak”.

But a Crown lawyer countered that police had considered the three potential suspects at the start of the investigation and found no evidence to connect them to the murder.

Ruling on Holland’s renewed bid to be released from custody, Mr Justice O’Hara stated that it was neither appropriate nor necessary for him to consider the theory advanced by Mr Brolly.

“I am satisfied that there is still a case for the defendant to answer,” he held.

“I am not persuaded that there is any change of circumstances by reason of which a decision to refuse bail should be reconsidered. Accordingly, bail is refused.”

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