Three men denied bail over alledged involvement in Newtownards loyalist feud

A police patrol after a “concerted show of strength” at Weavers Grange in Ards Credit: Pacemaker

A judge has directed the police and PPS to decipher “who are the chiefs and who are the foot soldiers” in the ongoing North Down drug feud.

Speaking as he refused to free three men accused of involvement in what has been described as a “concerted show of strength” at Weavers Grange in Ards, District Judge Mark Hamill said he had approached the case with “utter consistency” in that in the context of an ongoing drug war, bail will be refused.

“The point is the context in this,” said the Newtownards Magistartes Court judge, “an ongoing, deadly feud in Ards where someone is going, sooner or later, to be killed…it’s becoming more and more stark…the witness was attacked in the street, this court was attacked for the second time and it’s an existential threat to the rule of law in Ards, that’s the context.”

Lawyers for the three defendants, Barry Dann (51), Jimmy Leung (35) and Noel Morrison (48), who applied for bail, lamented the fact that the High Court has saw fit to free other men accused of involvement in the alleged affray and unlawful assembly in Weavers Grange on 6 April, submitting there should be be a “parity of principle” across the courts.

“From me you have got utter consistency, utter consistency,” declared the judge who was the subject of threatening graffiti last week, “bail is refused because of the context of an ongoing, vicious feud between not freedom fighters but drug gangsters"

“It’s drugs gangs and I’m not going to pick a drugs gang - they’re all tarred with the same brush…bail is refused because of the risk to the police and the rule of law in Ards.”

A detective has previously outlined that on 6 April and in the context of police having a semi permanent presence in the Weavers Grange area of Ards, a large crowd of 50-60 men, around ten of whom were masked, were seen walking from the Jubilee Road, along an alley on the Circular Road and climbing over a fence to get into Weavers Grange.

In an incident described as “orchestrated and designed to intimidate,” the officer said some men were carrying ladders and one had a hammer which were used to remove South East Antrim UDA banners from the gable walls of three houses.

The court has heard that since the feud began on 22 March, there have been more than 120 incidents including petrol bomb attacks, a pipe bomb attack, a shooting, a litany of damage caused and intimidation and even one incident where a threat to kill was painted in two foot letters across the front wall of the courthouse.

Grafitti targetting Judge Mark Hamill was sprayed over Newtownards Court House

Highlighting that the feud has put “considerable strain on police resources and the public purse,” a police officer also revealed how residents in North Down and Ards especially were living in fear.”

The other men accused of involvement and who are all from North Down or east Belfast are:

  • 49-year-old Stewart Scott Anderson

  • 51-year-old Barry Dann

  • 24-year-old Harry Murray

  • 31-year-old Ryan Turley

  • 48-year-old William Robert McCormick

  • 43-year-old David Milligan

  • 56-year-old Samuel Coulter

  • 40-year-old David James Thompson

  • 35-year-old Jimmy Leung

  • 48-year-old Noel Thomas Morrison

  • 39-year-old Graham Skinner.

Last week when both sides of the warring gangsters were due to appear in court, windows at the courthouse were smashed and graffiti threatening the judge was also daubed on the wall of the courthouse.

Two men from the opposing faction, 29-year-old Ryan ‘Buster’ Lee Johnston and 24-year-old Curtis Johnston, also applied for bail and again, their defence solicitor Patrick Higgins revealed that their co-accused have been granted High Court bail so the court should approach their cases on a similar vein.

He highlighted the others granted bail have more significant records and are alleged, according to the police case, to have played a greater role in the two incidents they’re accused of - affray and assault on a man at Ards shopping centre and affray and making a threat to kill a second man in Donaghadee on 31 March this year.

Again, DJ Hamill said he had been consistent in his approach by refusing bail but adjourning their applications for a week, he directed the PPS and police to come back next Wednesday with information as to “who are the chiefs and who are the footsoldiers” as that may change the landscape for future bail applications.

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