More than £5m on policing as loyalist feud spreads, court told

George Gilmore
George Gilmore

More than £5 million has been spent policing a paramilitary feud which has claimed two lives, a court heard today.

As a third man was remanded in custody charged with the murder of high-profile loyalist George Gilmore, detectives said the deadly dispute has now spread beyond Carrickfergus in Co Antrim.

Robert Darren McMaw appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court over his alleged role in the assassination.

The 32-year-old, of Starbog Road in Kilwaughter, near Larne, also faces further counts of attempting to murder two of Gilmore’s friends and possessing a self-loading pistol and seven rounds of ammunition in connection with the same attack.

His 29-year-old brother Samuel David McMaw, of the same address, and Brian McLean, 35, from The Birches in Carrickfergus, have already been charged with the same offences.

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 his alleged murderers who goaded him into a chase, detectives claim.

The attack was part of a year-long dispute between Gilmore’s grouping and the UDA’s south east Antrim unit.

As a number of associates packed the public gallery, Darren McMaw spoke only to confirm he understood the charges against him, nodding his head and replying: “Yes.”

Opposing his application for bail, a detective inspector told the court the feud in Carrickfergus has reached other parts of Greater Belfast.

Referring to the attacks on both Gilmore and the fatal shooting of Colin Horner at a supermarket car park in Bangor in May, he said: “It has resulted now in the death of two men and multiple attacks on other individuals and property.

“The cost to the Police Service is in excess of £5m to police this.”

Gilmore was gunned down as he returned with others from attending court in support of friends accused of trying to kill a pub doorman at the Royal Oak bar in the town two days previously.

His son, George Junior, was travelling in convoy in a second vehicle.

At a previous hearing prosecutors claimed Samuel David McMaw was 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.

His car continued on, mounting a pavement before crashing into a wall.

Another bullet was fired into a nearby house, heightening police concerns that the attack was indiscriminate.

In court today the detective claimed there would be a risk of witness intimidation if Darren McMaw was released from custody.

“There is a number of people involved in a relatively close area within Carrickfergus, they know there names and where they live,” he added.

Richard McConkey, defending, argued that Darren McMaw was first arrested and questioned back in April, making no attempt to interfere with the investigation following his initial release.

But despite stressing his client could live at an address outside the town, bail was denied.

Deputy District Judge Joe Rice said: “Given the background of a very real feud in Carrickfergus and police inquiries still ongoing, there’s a risk of further offences and indeed witness intimidation.”

He remanded McMaw in custody to appear again by video-link in four weeks time.