Tuesday 17 October 2017

Case against man accused of shooting man in supermarket car park 'weak and circumstantial', court hears

Colin Horner
Colin Horner

David Young

The case against a man accused of the murder of a loyalist in a busy supermarket car park is "weak, tenuous and circumstantial", his lawyer has told a court.

Alan James Wilson, 28, appeared in court on Friday, charged with the murder of Colin Horner, 35, outside a Sainsbury's store in Bangor, Co Down, on Sunday.

Mr Horner was shot dead by a lone gunman moments after he had put his three-year-old son in the back of his car. The murder has been linked to a feud among loyalist rivals.

Wilson, from Ballyrainey Road in Newtownards, is charged with murder and possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

A defence lawyer told a district judge sitting at Newtownards Magistrates' Court that his client denied the charges.

He claimed detectives had not accused him of pulling the trigger.

"The case is not that he was the shooter or in the getaway car," the solicitor told judge Amanda Brady.

Applying for bail, he said the evidence was based on CCTV and cell site mobile phone analysis.

"A weak, tenuous and circumstantial case was put to the defendant (during police interview)," said the lawyer.

Bearded Wilson, wearing a grey jumper and jeans, listened from the dock as his lawyer told the court he was "a man of good character" with no criminal record.

He spoke only once, at the start of the seven-minute hearing, to confirm his name as his partner and sister watched from the public gallery.

A detective inspector, who said he could link Wilson to the charges, declined to be drawn on details of the investigation when pressed by the defence solicitor. The officer told the court it would be inappropriate given that the probe was still live.

He opposed bail, claiming Wilson could interfere with witnesses.

The judge rejected the bail application, acknowledging police concerns about witness interference.

"I am not persuaded he is a suitable candidate for bail," she said.

Wilson was remanded in custody to appear before the court again, via video-link, on June 30.

He appeared in court hours after police made a further arrest in the case. A 45-year-old man detained in the Newtownards area was taken to Belfast for questioning.

A 47-year-old man arrested earlier this week was released without charge on Thursday night.

It is understood Mr Horner, from Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, recently relocated to Bangor amid fears he would be targeted in the same loyalist paramilitary feud that claimed the life of his friend, George Gilmore, two months ago.

Loyalist Mr Gilmore, 44, was shot dead in Carrickfergus in March.

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