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hotel plot Associate of Sligo drug dealer sanctioned gangster Robbie Lawlor's murder, PSNI believe

Officers believe that the man met with accused Aidan Holland in the hotel on March 16 and arranged the murder plot which was carried out 19 days later in Belfast.

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Feared gangland hitman Robbie Lawlor was gunned down in the Ardoyne area of west Belfast

Feared gangland hitman Robbie Lawlor was gunned down in the Ardoyne area of west Belfast

Feared gangland hitman Robbie Lawlor was gunned down in the Ardoyne area of west Belfast

AN associate of gang figure Barry Young met to sanction the murder of Robbie Lawlor in a Sligo hotel as Ireland reeled amidst the first Covid-19 lockdown, the PSNI believe.

The man is believed to have commissioned the murder on behalf of a major gangland alliance of Mr Big, paedophile drug lord Christy Griffin, paralysed Traveller gang boss Owen Maguire and kidnap accused Cornelius Price

Officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland believe that the man met with accused Aidan Holland in the hotel on March 16 and arranged the murder plot which was carried out 19 days later in Belfast.

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Convicted drug dealer Barry Young

Convicted drug dealer Barry Young

Convicted drug dealer Barry Young

Hitman Lawlor was unaware that the underworld pact against him had spread countrywide and right into the north west, where Young is suspected of being a major supplier of drugs to the north and into the heart of Ardoyne, where Lawlor was shot dead.

Young, a convicted drug dealer, is regarded as one of the most significant players on the drug scene outside Dublin and has close ties with both Maguire and Mr Big in Dublin.

Officers from the PSNI who have pieced together a complex jigsaw of events leading up to the April 4 murder and the connections of some of the key players believe that a gangland alliance was formed against Lawlor and found a common connection to him through Holland and a Sligo drug supplier.

They believe that Lawlor was owed money by Holland and was due to collect a stolen Mercedes car on the day he was shot dead outside his home but that he had no idea that the Belfast man was connected to his arch rivals through a Sligo supplier.

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Kidnap accused Cornelius Price

Kidnap accused Cornelius Price

Kidnap accused Cornelius Price

During a bail hearing this week a court heard that evidence against Holland and his co-accused Patrick Teer, centres on telephone cell site analysis, ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) and CCTV.

Crown lawyer Natalie Pinkerton told the court that Teer, charged along with Holland as part of a joint enterprise based on their involvements in events around the killing, had paid for Holland’s accommodation at the Sligo Park Hotel on March 16 when he met with an unnamed drug dealer connected to the Drogheda feud.

“While the murder occurred on April 4, it is thought that the plan to kill Mr Lawlor was commissioned on March 16,” she said.

The court heard it is also the prosecution case that on the day of the shooting Teer drove Holland back to Sligo and during the journey his phone looked at videos posted on You Tube celebrating the murder of Lawlor.”

Details of the alleged meeting in Sligo have not been shared with officers policing the Drogheda feud but it is understood that PSNI officers believe that Young is a major supplier of drugs to Northern Ireland and had connections with Holland.

It occurred as chaos ensued across the country, schools were closed and pubs were warned they would have to shut up for a fortnight to control the growing number of Covid-19 cases. It also happened on the day that UK prime minister Boris Johnson conducted a dramatic U Turn and put the UK into lockdown.

Lawlor, 36, was shot dead outside Adrian Holland’s house on Etna Drive in Ardoyne on the morning of April 4 when a gunman emerged from the property and opened fire. He was shot in the head and body and died at the scene.

In the initial aftermath of the killing Limerick criminal Ger Dundon, who was with him at the time, was arrested but he protested his innocence and said he was a friend rather than foe of Lawlor.

When his brothers later arranged the collection

of a €50,000 bounty from the Maguire faction, gardaí intervened and seized the cash.

During the bail hearing this week, Ms Pinkerton said more than 20 suspects have been identified as part of the ongoing police investigation – most of whom are living outside Northern Ireland.

Defence barrister Sean Devine said Lawlor’s nickname was ‘Robbie Ruthless’ and his client, Teer, was only being charged on an association with his co-accused.

“He was the only actor in this whole production who didn’t have a burner phone.

“This is a tenuous case that is wholly dependent upon my client’s awareness of what was going on.

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The murder scene of Robbie Lawlor in Ardoyne

The murder scene of Robbie Lawlor in Ardoyne

The murder scene of Robbie Lawlor in Ardoyne

“It does seem obvious from the way in which this matter was outlined that Mr Teer did not knowingly play any part in these events.”

He was denied bail.

The murder of Lawlor is one of the most complex in gangland history and threw up evidence of a dangerous alliance of some of the most powerful drug dealers in the State.

Officers from the Garda Síochána have been closely monitoring the links between Mr Big and Griffin and their connections with gangs across the country as concerns grow of the emergence of a new cartel.

Mr Big is one of the most important figures in Irish gangland.

He runs a major drug outfit and is seen as a highly intelligent criminal.

He was behind the murder of Real IRA boss Alan Ryan and his brother Vinnie Ryan, who had both attempted to extort money from him.

While he is ruthless if he is crossed he has not got involved in unnecessary feuding as he believes it is bad for business.

Lawlor came on his radar when he shot dead Ken Finn in 2018 in Coolock. Finn was a gunman who worked for Mr Big but was also his friend.

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