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Drug-dealing gangster freed on bail after pleading guilty to illegal weapon charge

Thug James Kidd is no stranger to the courts, having been a senior member of a gang headed by Malcolm McKeown

James Kidd

Paul Higgins

A drug-dealing gangster was back in court this week to admit having an illegal weapon.

James Kidd pleaded guilty at Newry Crown Court on Thursday to possession of pepper spray in September last year.

The defence agreed with the judge that a pre-sentence report would be of benefit before the case was dealt with.

Kidd (47), from Castleview in Gilford, was freed on continuing bail, with the judge confirming he would pass sentence next month.

The drug dealer and would-be arsonist is no stranger to the courts, having been a senior member of a gang headed by Malcolm McKeown, who was murdered in 2019.

The 54-year-old was shot six times as he sat in his car at a filling station in Waringstown.

A week before the gangland killing, Kidd was jailed alongside another man who cannot be identified because he is facing unconnected charges of offences of supplying cocaine and conspiring to burn down a pub in Craigavon.

Before Kidd was handed a 16-month sentence, a court was told the offences dated back to 2016, when police were making inroads in their investigations into the activities of McKeown’s now defunct crime cartel.

Multiple arson attacks on police officers’ homes and cars led cops to place covert recording devices in his car.

Two people were recorded discussing drug deals involving “bars of dope” and attacking a pub with petrol bombs.

A court was told while there was enough evidence in the recordings to charge two people, they had taken no steps to carry out their plans.

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