Northern Ireland news

Convicted murderers linked to bloody west Belfast feud

Michael Smith (40) was convicted of shooting dead Stephen Carson
Staff Reporter

TWO cousins convicted of the murder of a 28-year-old father are linked to a bloody feud in west Belfast dating back almost a decade.

Cousins Michael Smith (40) and David Smith (34), from Monagh Drive, were convicted at Belfast Crown Court yesterday of shooting dead Stephen Carson at his Walmer Street home in south Belfast in February 2016.

Mr Carson's fiancée and nine-year-old son were in the house at the time of the murder.

A third cousin, Francis Smith (42) from Glenmurry Court in west Belfast, was convicted of four crimes linked to Mr Carson's murder.

Mr Carson killing came after he and several other men were involved in an altercation in Turf Lodge in 2010 which saw Michael Smith almost lose an arm in a samurai sword attack.

Stephen Carson was shot dead in south Belfast in 2016

One of the men, Kieran McManus (26), was shot dead outside a Domino's Pizza outlet on Kennedy Way in west Belfast in March 2013.

Three years later, Mr Carson was murdered.

The feud has also been linked to intimidation which has seen several people flee their homes.

Read more: Three cousins found guilty over Stephen Carson murder

In March 2017, Michael Smith went on the run for a month after he was released from Maghaberry Prison by mistake.

 Francis Smith was convicted of four crimes linked to Stephen Carson's murder 

Mr Carson's brother Christopher (34) last night told The Irish News his family were "over the moon" at the convictions.

"It's more than we expected to be honest. It won't bring Stephen back but it has given us some closure," he said.

Christopher Carson said he had known David Smith since they were five and had attended the same primary and secondary schools. He said his late brother knew all three Smith cousins.

"It makes it harder because you know them," he said.

As the three Smith cousins were being handcuffed and led from the dock yesterday, the families of the deceased and the accused became involved in a heated verbal altercation and had to be kept apart by police officers.

The Smiths will be sentenced on December 20.

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