‘That weapon should have been destroyed, back in the day if this had happened you would have paid with your knees’
The terror group failed to properly dispose of the murder weapon, despite orders from the top of the organisation.
The gun has been in the PSNI’s possession since October last year and this week detectives interviewed a 33-year-old man in connection with the recovery.
The arrest has caused ripples within South East Antrim UDA. Questions are being asked as to why the alleged murder weapon was not destroyed.
The Sunday World understands the gun was ordered to be taken out of Carrick in the immediate aftermath of the Gilmore shooting.
Sources have told us the order was either ignored or the gun was, for some reason, returned to the seaside town.
Former UDA commander was shot as he drove through the Woodburn estate in March 2017.
Gilmore was a marked man having clashed with SEA leader Gary Fisher which resulted in a long running feud.
Over the course of a year those loyal to Gilmore were targeted in a series of attacks. Homes were attacked and individuals singled out.
Gilmore refused to leave his Carrickfergus home and his defiance cost him his life.
His family continued to be intimidated and harassed in the years since his death.
Fisher is said to be furious the gun ended up in police hands.
“It’s a schoolboy error,” a well placed source told us.
“That weapon should have been destroyed, back in the day if this had happened you would have paid with your knees.”
He said the fact it was used to kill one of their own made it all the more important for it to disappear.
“Angle grinder, cut it into four or five pieces and then drive round the country chucking the pieces into rivers, that’s what would have happened and what should have happened.”
The fact the gun was not destroyed or taken out of Carrick, may be an indication, said our source, that SEA may have limited access to weapons.
“By keeping it they obviously meant to use it again, a gun like that should never be used again.
It is believed members of SEA’s united based in the town’s Glenfield estate were involved in the murder.
They were largely responsible for orchestrating the campaign against the Gilmore faction and members are also believed to have been involved in the also unsolved murder of Glenn Quinn, murdered at his Ashleigh Park home in January 2020.
There are now concerns forensics will lead to yet more unwanted police attention on SEA.
It had been thought the trail had run cold following the acquittal in 2019 of three men charged with the murder.
Forty-four-year-old Gilmore died a day after he was show in the head at the wheel of his car in March 2017.
County Antrim men, David McMaw, 30, from Starbog Road in Larne, and his brother Darren McMaw, 34, from Kilgreel Road in Antrim, were cleared.
Brian McClean, 37, of Valetta Park in Newtownards, County Down, was also found not guilty.
The three men were accused of murdering Gilmore and attempting to kill the two passengers in his car.
It was alleged by the prosecution that Brian McClean acted as a look-out, David McMaw was the gunman, and his older brother Darren was in a van tracking the movements of George Gilmore's vehicle.
The three defendants denied all of the charges against them.
On the day of the murder, Gilmore's son, George Jnr, was one of the first on the scene and called 999.
The judge, Mr Justice McAlinden, took five hours to read out his judgement.
Friends and family of Mr Gilmore were in court for the hearing.
The judge said that the evidence of a number of witnesses who testified in the case had been unreliable.
"I simply do not believe that any of these three witnesses saw what they say they saw on the day in question."
The defendants sat in the dock and showed little emotion as one by one, they were found not guilty.
However, a number of their friends in the public gallery cheered.
This week the police confirmed a man had been detained as part of the Gilmore murder investigation.
“Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Major Investigation Team, investigating the murder of George Gilmore in Carrickfergus on March 13 2017, have interviewed a 33 year old man as part of their investigation following the recovery of a firearm in October 2021. “He attended Antrim Police Station this morning, Thursday 04 August. He was released following interview and a file will now be prepared for consideration by the Public Prosecution Service.”