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  1. ITV Report

Man appears in court over Colin Horner murder

35-year-old Colin Horner was shot in front of his son outside a supermarket in County Down Photo: Presseye

A man accused of murdering a father outside a supermarket in County Down was a passenger in a "surveillance" car used to track the victim and directed the gunman to the scene, police have said.

The vehicle carrying Joseph Blair, 34, was following 35-year-old Colin Horner before the shooting and was parked just 30 feet away when the killing was carried out in front of Mr Horner's three-year-old son in Bangor last May a detective added.

Mr Blair made a six-minute call to the gunman beforehand and mobile phone analysis and DNA evidence was used to link him to the crime, the officer added.

The gunman, who fired five rounds at close range in a car park, has yet not been identified, he told Newtownards Magistrates' Court.

Colin Horner was under surveillance for up to 11 days before his murder. Credit: Pacemaker

The detective inspector said: "It is our belief that he (Blair) was a passenger in the vehicle and would have been in the car park of Sainsbury's and watched the murder being committed."

Blair's barrister summarised the case against his client, in which he is accused of being a passenger in the black Ford Focus "in convoy with the injured person because it was carrying out surveillance work".

The detective said the Focus was believed to have spent some time outside the target's house in Bangor earlier on the day of the killing.

The vehicle was in the car park before and at the time of the shooting and left two minutes after the murder, where it went to meet the red Ford Mondeo carrying the gunman at Six Road Ends, a few miles south of Bangor.

He said: "It is the police case that the defendant was a passenger in the black Ford Focus which was driven by the co-accused, who was charged and is currently on High Courtbail.

"The role that this individual played, we believe, was that as the passenger he would have directed the gunman to the scene."

Blair, from Shackleton Walk in Newtownards, is charged with murdering Mr Horner and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Slouched in the dock and wearing a greyT-shirt, he appeared at the Newtownards court on Friday before district judge Austin Kennedy, where he nodded to confirm he understood the charges.

Two men aged 28 and 29 have already been charged with the murder.

The district judge refused bail and Joseph Blair was remanded in custody until next month.

  • Watch Paul Reilly's report: