Northern Ireland

Fiancee of murdered Stephen Carson recalls moment he was shot dead at his home

Stephen Carson who was shot dead at Walmer Street in south Belfast
Stephen Carson who was shot dead at Walmer Street in south Belfast

THE fiancee of a man murdered at a house in the Ormeau area of Belfast broke down in tears yesterday as she recalled the moment a gunman burst into their home and shot him dead.

The 28-year old woman wept as she told Belfast Crown Court how she knew "something was wrong" after she saw her partner Stephen Carson lying in a downstairs bathroom following a "loud bang."

She also described how she tried in vain to stop the intruders entering her home while trying to protect Mr Carson's nine-year old son during the fatal incident in February 2016.

Giving evidence via video link from a witness room at Laganside Court Complex, the woman said she had been in a relationship with Mr Carson for around five years prior to his death.

She also revealed they became engaged on Valentine's Day 2016, just days before he was killed.

The couple were in their Walmer Street home on February 25, 2016 - along with Mr Carson's nine-year old son when the gunman burst in.

She said one came into the living room told her and the boy to "f**k up" and kept asking "where is he? Where is the f**king tout?"

The woman said she was pushed to the sofa, and when the second man entered the room, he grabbed her wrist and covered her mouth before spraying something in her face.

When asked what happened next she broke down and said the first man "went straight down to the bathroom. Then I just heard a loud bang."

When she was asked what she did after they left, the woman said she went to find Stephen, hoping he had escaped out the back door but found him lying in the bathroom seriously injured. "He made a grunting noise," she said. "I knew something was wrong."

The jury of seven men and five women in the trial have already heard that it is the Crown's case that the motive for the murder could be linked back to an incident in 2010 when one of the three men accused of murdering Mr Carson sustained a serious wound to his arm.

West Belfast cousins David James Francis Smith (35) from Monagh Drive, 39-year old Michael Lawrence Smith also from Monagh Drive and 42-year old Francis Gerard Patrick Smith from Glenmurray Court have all been charged with - and deny - murder.

Michael Smyth has also been charged with, and denies, possessing a firearm with intent to commit murder, while Francis Smith also denies possessing both a firearm, and ammunition, in suspicious circumstances.

Under cross-examination from Tim Malony QC, the barrister representing Michael Smith, the woman was pressed on what she knew about the incident in 2010.

She accepted that Mr Carson and two of his friends were involved in a fight, that Michael Smith sustained an injury, but said Mr Carson didn't tell her much else as "Stephen didn't want me involved in anything."

Mr Malony pointed out that three years after the incident, Mr Carson's friend Kieran McManus - who was involved in the 2010 incident - was shot dead in west Belfast.

The defence barrister asked the witness about a comment she made in the aftermath of her fiance's death, when she said "I need these people caught. They got away with Kieran's murder, they won't get away with this."

She accepted she said this, telling the court: "My partner always said if anything was to happen to him, it would be them ones because of the fight."

Mr Malony then asked her: "Is it fair to say you couldn't describe the men who had come in to the house that night, but you were convinced it was Spud and Dee Smith to the extent you said 'they got away with Kieran's murder, they can't get away with this?'

She replied: "Everything happened so fast that night."