Two men are to stand trial charged with the murder of high-profile loyalist George Gilmore, a judge ordered today.
Samuel David McMaw, 29, and Brian McLean, 35, are jointly accused of carrying out the killing in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.
Gilmore, 44, died after being hit by bullets fired at his car on the Woodburn housing estate in broad daylight in March this year.
He had been lured into a trap by alleged murderers who goaded him into a chase, detectives claim.
The attack formed part of a year-long feud between Gilmore’s grouping and the UDA’s South East Antrim unit which has cost more than £5m to police, according to prosecution.
McMaw, the alleged gunman from Starbog Road in Kilwaughter, Co Antrim, and his associate McLean, of The Birches in Carrickfergus, appeared together at Belfast Magistrates’ Court for a preliminary enquiry hearing.
Both men face further counts of attempting to murder two of Gilmore’s friends and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. They deny all the offences.
Gilmore came under attack as he returned from attending court in support of friends accused of trying to kill a pub doorman at a bar in the town two days previously.
His son, George Junior, was travelling in convoy in a second vehicle.
Two men, allegedly identified by witnesses as McMaw and McLean, were spotted standing in the area.
Prosecutors claim they began shouting and making hand and arm gestures in a bid to provoke the Gilmores into a pursuit.
McMaw was then allegedly seen to crouch down in an alleyway, attempt to pull a balaclava over his face and brandish a gun.
As Gilmore tried to speed off, up to eight shots were fired from a 9mm pistol.
One bullet went through the windscreen, striking the loyalist in the back of the head.
During the hearing to establish if they have a case to answer, both defendants declined to give evidence or call witnesses at this stage.
District Judge Broderick granted a prosecution application to have them returned for Crown Court trial on a date to be fixed.
McMaw and McLean are expected to remain in custody until their arraignment.