Man to stand trial over hotel car park murder

Scales of Justice
Scales of Justice

A man originally from West Belfast is to stand trial over a murder in a hotel car park more than two decades ago.

Francis Lanigan was extradited from the Irish Republic to Northern Ireland in January after a six-year legal battle.

He had been living and working as a barber under an assumed name until he was located by undercover Garda detectives.

The 55-year-old, whose address was given as Delhurst Terrace, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, appeared yesterday at Belfast Crown Court to be formally arraigned on two charges.

When the charge of murdering John Stephen Knocker at the Glengannon Hotel in Dungannon, on May 31, 1998, was put to him, Lanigan replied: “Not guilty.”

He further denied “possessing a 9mm Browing pistol and a quantity of suitable ammunition with intent to endanger life”.

A senior prosecuting counsel told Mr Justice Colton that before the trial a number of “cross-jurisdictional issues’’ would need to be dealt with.

The prosecution QC confirmed to the court that a certificate from the director of the PPS in Northern Ireland had been signed to have the case tried without a jury.

A defence barrister said the decision to have a non-jury trial may be challenged at a future date.

The four-week trial is due to start on November 4.

Mr Justice Colton remanded Lanigan back into custody, adding that he would review the case next month.

John Knocker had travelled to Dungannon to collect his girlfriend when he was shot dead outside the hotel’s Exit 15 nightclub.

During extradition proceedings in Dublin, a court heard that gardai had been aware Lanigan had been living under the assumed name of Kieran McCrory for a number of years.

The court heard Lanigan had been working in the Dublin gym for 15 years and he had been identified by gardai covertly going to the building.