Ten men armed with baseball bats, hammers and pickaxe handles carried out a barroom attack on a former leading loyalist in an alleged bid to kill him, a court heard today.
Darren Moore suffered multiple head fractures, facial lacerations and a puncture wound to his stomach during the “vicious” beating in Doagh, Co Antrim on Wednesday, police said.
Details emerged as a 27-year-old man was remanded in custody charged with his attempted murder.
Aaron Cahoon, of Fairhill Gardens in Newtownabbey, also faces a further count of possessing an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence.
Cahoon, who denies the charges, was arrested along with six other men. Five were later released on police bail.
As he appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court a detective sergeant claimed he could attempt a further attack on the victim if released.
Moore, in his forties and formerly from the Mount Vernon area of the city, has been under loyalist paramilitary threat, the court heard.
He was sitting having a drink in McConnell’s Bar when the gang entered and launched their attack before escaping in a number of cars.
Moore and police who viewed CCTV footage have named Cahoon as being part of the ten-man team, District Judge George Conner was told.
“The victim is saying the defendant was armed with a hammer,” the detective said.
A bloodied hammer was seized from Cahoon’s car when it was located less than an hour later in the Mossley area of Newtownabbey.
Opposing bail, the detective said: “Police are in receipt of information from October last year, stating that the defendant is actively trying to track down Mr Moore with a view to carrying out an attack on him.”
It was also revealed that an attack was carried out early this morning on a house in Broughshane, Co Antrim where Moore was previously living.
Even though the victim remains in hospital, police fear he could still be targeted.
Defence solicitor Donal McConnell described the victim as a man with a “long and unenviable criminal record” whose credibility has been repeatedly called into question.
He insisted Cahoon denies any involvement and questioned the strength of CCTV evidence.
“Mr Moore is presumably in some form of protective custody,” he added.
But refusing bail, Mr Conner cited the risk of interfering with the investigation.
He remanded Cahoon in custody to appear again by video-link on April 13.