Painter and decorator found guilty over UDA murder car

John Boreland was murdered in August 2016
John Boreland was murdered in August 2016

A painter and decorator has been found guilty of providing his car to the UDA which was used in the murder of loyalist rival John ‘Bonzer’ Boreland.

Thomas Boyd Pearson, 63, formerly of Cliftondene Park in north Belfast, but now with an address at Rathglynn in Antrim, had denied a single charge at his non-jury Belfast Crown Court trial of making property available to terrorists, namely a silver Renault Megane car.

He had pleaded guilty to a charge of perverting the course of justice by burning the Megane after the murder.

Two men – Darren McAllister and Thomas O’Hara – have already pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice over the vehicle.

It was the prosecution case that the silver Megane car was seen by witnesses leaving the murder scene at Sunningdale Gardens, north Belfast, after a number of shots rang out.

Mr Boreland was found slumped between two cars on the evening of Sunday, August 7, 2016.

A post-mortem examination said he had died from “significant head trauma’’ caused by a shotgun wound to the head.

During a ruling on the case on Tuesday, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said that Pearson told police at interview that an individual came to his door one night and said: “We need your car to do a wee message.”

Pearson later told police that in fact a car load of people had come his door and described them as “sinister”.

“In a series of answers, he indicated that these individual were members of a group.”

The judge said Pearson was asked by police if they belonged to a terrorist or proscribed organisation and Pearson replied: “Aye, I’d say they do.’’

“At this stage of the interview,’’ said the Belfast Recorder, “he was confirming his belief that they were members of a group, which is either a terrorist group or a proscribed group and regarded members of that group he came into contact with as ‘sinister’.

“He confirmed his belief that the request for his car came from somebody very high up and as he described ‘somebody at the very top’.’’

Pearson denied to police that the request for his car had come from north Belfast UDA, but said the request could have come from another area.

The Belfast Recorder concluded: “I am satisfied ... that at the time he made the vehicle available he knew that it was going to be used for the benefit of a proscribed organiation ... his replies indicate his knowledge that it was the Ulster Defence Association.

“On the basis of what the defendant said to police, he knew that the vehicle was going to be used for the benefit of a proscribed organisation.”

Judge McFarland released Pearson on continuing bail to be sentenced with his two co-accused next month.