Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Lithuanian mafia link suspected in Newry double shootings

A double shooting which took place in Newry in September is believed to have been linked to the Lithuanian mafia, the High Court has heard.

Details emerged during a bail hearing last Wednesday for a 26 year old man charged with two attempted murders over the local gun attacks. Lithuanian national Ramunas Macnoris is also charged with kidnapping, possessing a handgun with intent to commit attempted murder, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance or a licence.  The offences relate to the shooting of two men at Sandy’s Street in Newry and the Armagh Road in the city on September 17th.

Prosecutors said one of the alleged victims claims he was abducted from his home in Ardfield Drive in Warrenpoint and warned he would be beaten for a week if he did not hand over £5,000 from suspected drug dealing. The man is said to have disclosed that he had been on the run from the Lithuanian mafia for the last three years over a large drug debt.  He claimed to have been bundled into the back of a Volkswagen Passat at gunpoint and driven to Newry before being shot in the leg. He said he was given a phone and demands were made to come up with the £5,000.

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.”

Macnoris is alleged to have been driving a car used to abduct the first victim.  His partner, a nurse, was prepared to put up a £5,000 cash surety to secure bail for the accused.  Granting bail, the judge ordered Macnoris to obey a curfew and wear an electronic tag.  He is banned from entering Newry or Warrenpoint and was ordered to surrender his passport.

Meanwhile, it has emerged the man whose body was found in a garage in Coalisland last month was also being sought by police in relation to the Newry double shootings.  The body of Lithuanian national Gediminas Stauskas was found in a garage near Coalisland on October 15th.  Then man accused of killing him – Darius Sikorskas is understood to have been living with the victim in the garage where he was killed.  Mr Sikorskas has also been charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and possessing a handgun connected to the double shootings in Newry.

Police say they are still searching for three other suspects in connection with the shootings.