Northern Ireland news

West Belfast man jailed for murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay to mount legal bid to overturn conviction

Prison officer Adrian Ismay died as a result of injuries sustained in and under-vehicle booby trap bomb attack in east Belfast

A WEST Belfast man jailed for the murder of a prison officer is set to mount a legal bid to overturn his conviction.

Christopher Robinson (51) is serving a minimum 22-year sentence for the killing of Adrian Ismay in March 2016.

Judges at the Court of Appeal today listed Robinson's challenge for a full hearing in December.

Mr Ismay (52) suffered serious leg injuries when a bomb exploded under the van he was driving near his home at Hillsborough Drive, east Belfast.

Despite an apparent initial recovery, the father-of-three died 11 days later.

Dissident republican grouping the New IRA claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

Robinson, from Aspen Walk in Dunmurry, denied involvement in the murder or being an active member of the terrorist organisation.

During his non-jury trial, Belfast Crown Court heard he knew the victim from their time volunteering together for St John Ambulance.

Robinson was allegedly connected to the murder plot by CCTV footage of a car believed to have been used to transport the device planted under Mr Ismay's van.

Prosecutors argued that he knew in advance about the attack, and assisted in targeting the prison officer.

His high level of online interest into the treatment of dissident republican prisoners - as well as internet searches about militant republican activity - was cited as further evidence.

Robinson was found guilty of murder and possessing explosives with intent to endanger life.

In November last year the trial judge ruled that he "played an important and integral role in planning and carrying out the terrorist operation which resulted in the death of Mr Ismay".

He said the murder was "perpetrated in pursuance of a twisted republican terrorist ideology".

Lawyers for Robinson are now preparing grounds of challenge to the conviction.

Defence barrister Arthur Harvey QC told the Court of Appeal there were issues around the interpretation and conclusions drawn from the evidence.

Following submissions, Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan agreed to list a two-day hearing on December 8-9.

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