Mark Lovell, 58, was shot dead at close range in his car at Ardcarn Park in Newry last month.
Mr Lovell, 58, was shot dead at close range in his car at Ardcarn Park in Newry last month.
A link was drawn between the two killings, as one of the men charged with murdering Lawlor in north Belfast made a renewed application for bail.
Counsel for 47-year-old Patrick Teer claimed he has been wrongly plunged into a “nightmarish situation” through an innocent association with his co-accused.
Lawlor, 36, was gunned down in broad daylight outside a house in the city’s Ardoyne area on April 4, 2020.
The murder formed part of a violent drugs dispute between rival criminal factions with connections to Drogheda, Dublin, Sligo and beyond Ireland.
Neither Teer, of Thornberry Hill in Belfast, nor 39-year-old co-accused Adrian Holland, from Etna Drive in the city, are suspected of being the gunman.
Instead, they have been charged as part of a joint enterprise, based on their alleged involvement in events surrounding the killing.
Prosecutors allege the plot to lure Lawlor to his death was devised weeks earlier.
Holland travelled to a Sligo hotel and met an unnamed international drug dealer in a trip paid for by his co-accused, it is claimed
Teer’s barrister argued today that he should now be released from custody due to the passage of time and a “softening” of his alleged role.
Sean Devine said: “My client has been in a nightmarish situation; this is his first ever experience of the criminal justice system.”
He added: “His sole (alleged) involvement is that of an association with Mr Holland.”
Mr Justice O’Hara was told the prosecution do not regard Teer as a top-ranking member of an organised crime gang.
But a Crown lawyer submitted: “This is a circumstantial case not based on any one piece of evidence.
“If there is prima facie evidence of being involved in a crime of this nature it must mean they are a trusted member, part or cog of that organised crime gang.”
Opposing Teer’s release, she insisted that the underworld dispute is ongoing.
“Police believe the murder of Mr Lovell in Newry (on December 1) was part of that feud,” the prosecutor said.
It was stressed that detectives are still hunting for the gunman and others involved in the attack on Lawlor.
“If released there is a risk (Teer) will go back into that role and there will be crime up to and including murder,” the lawyer added.
Adjourning the bail application, Mr Justice O’Hara said he will give a ruling at a later date.