'drugs war' Robbie Lawlor murder accused refused bail over judge's 'hunter or hunted' concern
The judge cited concerns about potential further offences and interference with witnesses
A man charged with murdering crime boss Robbie Lawlor as part of a gangland “drugs war” is to remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.
Adrian Holland (38) was refused bail despite claims of eavesdropping on his confidential legal consultations within the prison.
Mr Justice O’Hara cited concerns that either the accused or others could be targeted.
“He might be the hunter or he might be the hunted, but there is a public risk involved,” the judge said.
“There is a prima facie case that Mr Holland was involved in this murder… which is believed to have been committed in the context of a drugs war between violent criminal gangs.”
Lawlor (36) was shot dead outside Holland's home at Etna Drive in Ardoyne, north Belfast on April 4, 2020.
A gunman emerged from the house and opened fire in broad daylight.
Lawlor is said to have been heavily involved in a violent feud between rival Drogheda-based factions.
Previous courts were told he may have travelled to Northern Ireland because he feared he was going to be attacked.
But his killing had already been commissioned three weeks earlier at a meeting in a Sligo hotel attended by an international drugs dealer, it has been alleged.
Neither Holland nor 46-year-old co-defendant Patrick Teer, of Thornberry Hill in Belfast, are suspected of carrying out the shooting.
Instead, they remain in custody charged as part of a joint enterprise to murder, based on their alleged involvement in its preparation.
Holland mounted a first High Court bail application amid continuing claims that discussions with his lawyers at HMP Maghaberry were subjected to covert monitoring.
Two alleged incidents in January involved a Zoom meeting and a telephone conference.
Defence counsel Joe Brolly submitted: “This is a direct attack on his rights, and on the integrity of the criminal justice system.”
Arguing that Holland should be released to restore confidence in legal consultations, the barrister disclosed that he has retained an IT expert to check the security on his own phone and computers.
Mr Brolly also stressed his client’s complete denial to any role in the assassination of Lawlor.
“His case is that he had no idea that a murder was going to take place,” he told the court.
“How ludicrous would it be for him to be involved in setting someone up for murder in his own front garden.”
But prosecutors insisted the “indiscriminate” shooting demonstrated a need to protect the wider public.
Crown lawyer David Russell said: “These gangs do not care who is in the firing line then they seek to achieve their aim.”
Denying bail, Mr Justice O’Hara cited concerns about potential further offences and interference with witnesses.
He added: “There is also a risk that Mr Holland himself and, if he was released, anyone associated with him may be a target.
“When Mr Lawlor was killed there were stray bullets which luckily didn’t harm anyone else, but they could have.”
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