Bail refused to Scotsman accused of destroying car used in murder of UDA boss

Loyalist John Boreland was shot dead in Belfast last August

Loyalist John Boreland was shot dead in Belfast last August

A Scotsman accused of destroying a car used in the murder of former loyalist paramilitary boss John Boreland must remain in custody, a High Court judge has ruled.

Thomas O’Hara, 30, was refused bail amid claims he may flee or attempt to interfere with the ongoing investigation into the killing in north Belfast last August.

Prosecutors confirmed police searches have yet to locate the gun used to assassinate the 46-year-old ex-UDA leader.

O’Hara, from Brownhill Drive in Kilbirnie, north Ayrshire, is one of three men charged with perverting the course of justice.

They allegedly set fire to a Renault Megane car two days after the murder.

Boreland was shot at Sunningdale Gardens as he walked home from his local bar. He died at the scene.

Police believe the gunman emerged from the Megane and fired a first shot into his chest.

When he went to his knees a second shot was discharged into the top of his skull from above, a previous court was told.

A Crown lawyer said the car was later driven to a farm in Derriaghy, Co Antrim before being taken to the Wheelers Road, Lisburn where it was set on fire.

CCTV footage and evidence from a tracking device allegedly links O’Hara and his two co-accused to the vehicle’s destruction.

None of them have been charged with the actual murder.

The prosecution claimed O’Hara returned to Scotland hours after the Megane was torched.

Opposing bail, a barrister raised concerns about flight and the potential to hamper the probe.

“The firearm used in this murder is still outstanding, it has not been recovered and police are actively searching for it,” he said.

“He (O’Hara) has already, on the prosecution case, been involved in destroying relevant evidence.”

Defence counsel Mark Farrell raised issues of delay and argued that both co-accused have been released from custody.

“On the height of the case against him he’s been involved in a joint enterprise to dispose of a car,” Mr Farrell added.

“The prosecution will have to prove he knowingly interfered with the course of justice, as opposed to getting himself involved in something above his head.”

Denying bail, however, Mr Justice Deeny cited the risks of flight and reoffending.