Northern Ireland news

Brother of man on trial for murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay ordered to appear in court

Christopher Robinson at an earlier court hearing

THE brother of a man on trial for the murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay has been ordered to appear in court by next Monday or a warrant will be issued for his arrest.

Peter Robinson was due to give evidence today at the non-jury trial of his brother Christopher Alphonsus Robinson who denies murdering Mr Ismay (52) on March 4, 2016.

The 46-year-old, of Aspen Walk, Dunmurry, also denies charges of possessing an improvised explosive device and providing money or property for the purposes of terrorism.

When the trial resumed earlier this week after an eight-month adjournment, a colleague of Peter Robinson claimed in court that the accused's brother had disabled the CCTV at a west Belfast youth hostel where they both worked.

The youth support worker said that this happened on March 3, 2016 - the evening before a bomb exploded under Mr Ismay's blue Volkswagen Transporter vehicle after he left his home at Hillsborough Drive in east Belfast

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Murdered prisoner officer Adrian Ismay

Mr Ismay initially survived the blast but the father-of-three died 11 days later from his injuries.

The hostel worker said the CCTV was disabled in the main office by Peter Robinson who told him: "Our 'Christy' is calling to the hostel.''

During proceedings at Belfast Crown Court, a medical note was presented to the court relating to Peter Robinson.

A lawyer representing Peter Robinson said he had a history of panic attacks and his attendance "would cause significant deterioration in his mental state."

The lawyer also said previous police assessments found that he was at an increased risk of becoming a target for dissident republicans if he took part in the case.

Trial Judge Mr Justice McAlinden said he didn't consider the potential impact (of attending) the case "outweighs the need for him to attend to give evidence in this matter."

Several members of staff from the west Belfast youth hostel also gave evidence at the Diplock-style trial.

A team leader who has worked at the hostel for 14 years said she would access the CCTV system if there were any incidents at the hostel or if police called to view about incidents on the street outside.

"I only used it if something happened. I could look at the footage, I could find the date and time and rewind it back to see anything.''

She added: "I don't know now to make alterations to the system. I have no dealings with recordings from the CCTV footage.'' The witness denied switching off the CCTV system.

A number of other members of staff confirmed to the court that the CCTV system was working on evening of March 3, 2016.

They said that Peter Robinson was one of two members of staff who took over from them as night shift staff from 8pm.

Mr Justice McAlinden heard they saw him arriving in his Citroen C3 car "through the window and on the CCTV'' parking the vehicle outside the front of the hostel between 7.20pm - 7.25pm.

It is the prosecution case that the C3 vehicle containing the bomb was driven by Christopher Robinson to Mr Ismay's home off the Cregagh.

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