Northern Ireland news

Brother of murder accused Christopher Robinson claims he was threatened by dissident republicans

Peter Robinson

A Belfast man refused to give evidence at his brother's murder trial after claiming he was threatened by dissident republicans, a court has heard.

Peter Robinson appeared at Belfast Crown Court earlier this week where his 48-year old brother Christopher is currently on trial for murdering prison officer Adrian Ismay in March 2016.

The 52-year old father of three died 11 days after a bomb exploded under his van close to his east Belfast home.

From Aspen Park in Poleglass, Christopher Robinson has been charged with murdering Mr Ismay, possessing an improvised explosive device and providing money or property for the purposes of terrorism. He has denied all the charges against him.

The accused's brother Peter Robinson was ordered to appear at the hearing on Monday, and after swearing on the Bible, he refused to give evidence or answer any of the four questions posed to him by a Crown barrister, on the grounds he may incriminate himself.

He also made the case that he would not be prepared to give evidence at the trial due to protecting his family as he was in fear of a pipe bomb attack.

At the time of the murder, Peter Robinson worked at a youth hostel in west Belfast and was due to answer questions about claims he disabled the CCTV system the night before the bomb exploded and told a colleague 'our Christy is calling.'

It's the Crown's case that a red Citroen C3 containing the bomb was driven by Christopher Robinson to Mr Ismay's Hillsborough Drive home - the same make and model Peter Robinson drove to work hours before the device exploded.

In the aftermath of the deadly bomb attack in east Belfast, both brothers were arrested and treated as suspects.

The judge was told that after Peter Robinson was visited by police and told he was no longer being treated as a suspect, he was asked to give evidence at the trial.

However, the accused's brother made the case he received a threat from whom he believed to be dissident republicans who warned him not to give evidence in the trial.

Expressing concerns for his own welfare and the safety of his family, the Belfast man spoke of a 'fear of a pipe bomb being thrown through the living room window of his home.'

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