Former UDA boss John Boreland was ‘shot in top of skull’

Loyalist John Boreland was shot dead in August 2016
Loyalist John Boreland was shot dead in August 2016

Murdered ex-loyalist paramilitary boss John Boreland was shot in the top of the skull after an initial bullet brought him to his knees, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors also revealed that the gun used to kill the 46-year-old in north Belfast last summer has still not been found.

Police forensics on the scene of the murder at Sunningdale Gardens off the Ballysillan Road in Belfast last August

Police forensics on the scene of the murder at Sunningdale Gardens off the Ballysillan Road in Belfast last August

Details emerged as bail was granted to a man accused of destroying a car linked to the murder.

Thomas Pearson, 62, of Cliftondene Park in Belfast, faces a charge of perverting the course of justice.

Boreland was gunned down at Sunningdale Gardens as he walked to his flat on August 7.

The former Ulster Defence Association leader’s killers struck minutes after he left his local bar. He died at the scene.

Crown lawyer Stephanie Boyd said: “Police believe the gunman got out of a Renault Megane, approached Mr Boreland 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.”

She described the murder victim as a prominent loyalist who had not been linked to the mainstream UDA in recent times.

The car used by the killers was allegedly purchased by Pearson five months previously, the court heard.

It was taken to a farm in Derriaghy, before being taken to the Wheelers Road, Lisburn where it was set on fire two days after the shooting.

Pearson is one of three men accused of destroying the vehicle, based on CCTV footage of its movements.

He has not been charged with the murder and claimed during police interviews to have acted under duress.

Mrs Boyd told the court: “He submitted a pre-prepared statement saying he had been used by sinister individuals but would not go into further detail as it would risk the safety of him and his family.”

She claimed, however, that Pearson had lied consistently following his arrest.

Opposing bail, the barrister disclosed that fresh searches 10 days ago failed to locate the gun used in the killing.

She said police were concerned Pearson would “go to any lengths to obstruct the investigation”, including destroying the murder weapon.

Sean Mullan, defending, argued that his client was not present when the car was set alight.

“Our case is that whatever has happened in police interviews, Mr Pearson has given an account of duress,” he added.

Granting bail, Mr Justice Horner acknowledged that a co-accused has already been released from custody.

He ordered Pearson to live under curfew and electronic monitoring conditions at an address in Antrim, and imposed a blanket ban on entering Belfast.