Murder by appointment – Lawlor ‘fate sealed at Tesco car park meeting’
Gangland criminal Robbie Lawlor was murdered at an appointment he had set up in a supermarket car park, a court has heard.
Detectives claimed the Dubliner met a suspect to exchange cash and arranged a follow-up call at a house in north Belfast.
Lawlor (36) was shot dead the next day when he went to the city’s Ardyone area.
Details emerged as a man currently on police bail over the killing on April 4 failed in a bid to have his curfew removed.
The suspect (36) has not been charged with any offences connected to the murder.
However, a detective inspector told Belfast Magistrates Court he is believed to have met Lawlor at a Tesco car park in Crumlin, Co Antrim, 24 hours before the killing.
Cash was exchanged and arrangements made for the murder victim to call at a house on Etna Drive the following day.
“Robert Lawlor did attend that appointment, and when he arrived he was met by a gunman who exited the address and shot him dead in broad daylight,” the detective said.
He was hit several times and died at the scene.
Stray bullets also struck a car parked outside the property, narrowly missing one of Lawlor’s associates.
Police said it was “sheer good luck” that others in the street were not injured or killed.
A Volkswagen Scirocco, thought to have been used as a getaway car, was found burnt out in a nearby street minutes later.
Originally from Dublin, Lawlor was widely reported to have been heavily involved in the feud between rival Drogheda-based factions.
He had been linked to the abduction and murder in January of 17-year-old Keane Mulready-Woods, whose body was dismembered.
“This murder is directly linked to a feud between several organised crime gangs originating out of the Republic of Ireland,” the detective said.
“It’s a comprehensive and complex investigation, with numerous links to organised crime gangs operating internationally, as well as in mainland UK and throughout Ireland.”
The suspect seeking to have his curfew lifted was arrested three days after Lawlor was shot dead.
District Judge George Conner heard officers detained him during a search operation at his mother’s home.
He was subsequently released on police bail to live at an undisclosed location while the murder investigation continues
Defence barrister Bobbie Leigh Herdman claimed the curfew was “disproportionate, unnecessary and punitive”.
The killing and the alleged meeting between her client and Lawlor a day earlier both happened during daytime, she stressed.
However, the detective responded: “The police case is that a significant amount of planning and preparation for the murder was carried out during the hours of darkness.
“That’s why we would ask that the curfew is kept in place.”
Ruling that the bail term must remain in place, Judge Conner said it was not an unreasonable condition.