Judge warns that loyalist drug feud could end in deaths

Judge Warns That Loyalist Drug Feud Could End In Deaths
Three men were denied bail at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court on Thursday. Photo: PA
Share this article

By Jonathan McCambridge, PA

A district judge has warned that someone is going to get killed if a loyalist drugs feud in Co Down continues.

Mark Hamill made the comments as he refused bail at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to three men accused of affray and unlawful assembly.


The charges relate to an incident on April 6th when a group of up to 60 men gathered at the Weaver’s Grange housing estate in Newtownards and removed a number of South East Antrim UDA banners from gable walls.

The incident has been linked by police to the ongoing dispute between loyalist gangs.

A previous court hearing heard there have been more than 100 incidents in the feud, including pipe and petrol bomb attacks.

Attacks on houses in Co Down
The ongoing feud in Co Down has seen multiple attacks on property (Liam McBurney/PA)

Ryan Turley (31) from Newtownards, Graham Thomas Skinner (39) from Bangor, and William Robert McCormick (48) from Newtownards appeared in court via videolink on Thursday.

A PSNI Detective Constable said she could connect them to the charges.

She told the court that police objected to bail on the basis of risk of further offences being committed.


The officer told the court the feud had caused “great fear” in the North Down community and added that the dispute was “ongoing and indeed escalating”.

In making an application for bail, a lawyer for Turley and Skinner argued there was no risk of reoffending and urged the court “not to generalise” when dealing with bail applications relating to the feud.

Mr Hamill said: “It is pretty hard not to generalise when there is an ongoing feud.”

He added: “The whole point of the court’s approach is to try and keep the peace in Newtownards, to try and keep a lid on this feud.


“If the alleged participants are released as and when they come to this court, then it is very difficult for the police to keep a lid on this feud.

“The allegation is that they are participating in an ongoing drugs turf war. That is the key, ongoing.”



Mr Hamill said that everyone coming before the court connected with the feud would be met with a “global response”.

He added: “Police tell me that ‘we are rushed off their feet, we are stretched to keep a lid on this’.

“I will take a contextual approach, a global approach. The allegation is this is part and parcel of a potentially deadly feud.

“As I’ve said previously, someone is going to get killed and that is what the police are trying to prevent, and that is what I am trying to prevent.

“I want to make it crystal clear that at the first hurdle, anyone applying for bail connected to this gangster feud will fail at that first hurdle.”

Mr Hamill refused bail and remanded the three men in custody until June 28th.

Crime agency obtains freezing order for seaside ho...
Read More

The district judge also urged the media not to publish the full addresses of the defendants while the feud is ongoing.

Meanwhile, detectives investigating the incident at Weaver’s Grange have made a further three arrests.

Three men, aged 51, 46 and 24, are currently in police custody.

Read More

Message submitting... Thank you for waiting.

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© BreakingNews.ie 2024, developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com