Court hears international drugs gang linked to Newry shootings

September 28, 2015

A Lithuanian man charged with the attempted murder of two Eastern European men in Newry last week is allegedly part of an international drug smuggling gang, a judge has been told.

Twenty-six year-old Ramunas Macnoris appeared in Newry Magistrates Court last Monday charged with two counts of attempted murder, kidnapping one of the alleged victims, possessing a weapon, namely a handgun with intent to commit attempted murder, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and driving without a licence.

Two 32-year-old men were shot within an hour of each other at Sandy’s Street and Armagh Road in the city in the early hours of Thursday 17th September.

A detective sergeant told the court that the first alleged victim was kidnapped from his home in Ardfield Drive in Warrenpoint before being driven to the Armagh Road in Newry where he claims he was dumped from a VW Passat car and shot in the leg. The man reportedly told police in a witness statement that he had been “on the run from the Lithuanian mafia for three years” over an alleged drug deal .  He said a man he named as “Kundas” confronted him at his Warrenpoint home at gunpoint and bundled him into the back of the Passat which was allegedly driven by the defendant.  He claimed “Kundas” demanded £5,000 and gave him a phone to get the money but when the victim said he could not raise the cash, “Kundas” is alleged to have said he would be killed.   The victim was subsequently shot in the leg on the Armagh Road where a member of the public found him and alerted police.

The officer told the court the second victim was shot after he opened his front door at Sandy’s Street in the city to a man allegedly armed with a handgun and attached silencer.  Crime scene investigators who examined bullet casings at both scenes found that the calibre of bullet used was “typically used by Eastern bloc countries as service weapons”.

The detective sergeant claimed that Macronis is part of “a Lithuanian organised crime gang involved with the importation and distribution of drugs.” He revealed that police enquires had uncovered numerous sightings of the Passat and a Volvo car in an apparent convoy on CCTV footage around the city at the time of the shootings.

Macnoris was arrested on Thomas Street in Dungannon and a “sophisticated hide” was uncovered in the vehicle where the passenger air bag should have been.

The detective said the hide was capable of being locked and unlocked using electro magnets operated by the air bag button and inside, officers seized a “flick baton and a quantity of white powder.”

The officer added that Macnoris refused to answer police questions, account for his movements or take part in a police line-up but that “covert proceedings” had allowed the man who was allegedly kidnapped to identify Macnoris as the driver.

Police objected to bail amid fears the defendant could reoffend, interfere with witnesses or flee the country.  Despite defence submissions that Macnoris could be released with stringent conditions including staying 40 miles away from Newry, District Judge Paul Copeland refused to grant bail and remanded the accused into custody to appear again on 14 October via videolink.