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Lawlor murder accused case is 'a masterpiece of vagueness', says lawyer

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Robbie Lawlor was shot dead at Etna Drive, Belfast

Robbie Lawlor was shot dead at Etna Drive, Belfast

Robbie Lawlor was shot dead at Etna Drive, Belfast

The case presented against one of the men accused of murdering Dublin gangland boss Robbie Lawlor was "a masterpiece of vagueness", a court heard yesterday.

Counsel for Adrian Holland (37) claimed the charge depends entirely on complex, circumstantial CCTV evidence, number plate registrations and mobile phone analysis.

Lawlor was gunned down outside Holland's house at Etna Drive in Ardoyne, north Belfast on April 4 last year.

Prosecutors claim the 36-year-old underworld figure had moved north because he feared he was going to be attacked in a deadly feud.

But his assassination had already been commissioned three weeks earlier at a meeting in a Sligo hotel attended by an international drugs dealer, it has been alleged.

Neither Holland nor 45-year-old co-defendant Patrick Teer, of Thornberry Hill in Belfast, are accused of being the gunman. Instead, they were charged as part of a joint enterprise to murder, based on their alleged involvement in events surrounding the murder.

According to police, Lawlor went to Etna Drive in a pre-arranged appointment to collect cash.

Shooting

A gunman emerged from the property and opened fire, shooting him in the head and body. Lawlor died at the scene.

The attack is believed to have been part of an ongoing drugs dispute which claimed three lives in the past year.

Originally from Dublin, Lawlor was heavily involved in a bitter feud between rival Drogheda-based factions.

With both of the men charged with his murder still in custody, counsel for Holland challenged the case advanced against his client at a previous hearing.

"The outline of the facts by the prosecution was a masterpiece of vagueness," Joe Brolly told Belfast Magistrates Court.

Confirming Holland intends to apply for bail next month, the barrister requested police interview tapes and CCTV from a Tesco store in Crumlin, Co Antrim where Lawlor allegedly met a suspect on the day before his murder.

Footage from a hotel in Sligo where police claim a meeting was held to commission the assassination should also be disclosed, it was contended.

Accused

"The evidence against this accused is the coincidence of ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition), CCTV footage, and cell-site analysis of a mobile phone not recovered which the prosecution say is attributable to the accused," Mr Brolly added.

Crown lawyer Natalie Pinkerton responded that evidence is not ready to be disclosed at this stage, but added that she would take instructions on the material sought.

Adjourning the case for four weeks, district judge George Conner told defence representatives: "I suggest you put in writing the matters you are specifically asking for.

"I expect the prosecution to examine those matters and to release any documents that can be released at this stage."


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