Northern Ireland

Stephen Carson murder: Three convicted over death

Stephen Carson Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Stephen Carson was 28-years-old when he was murdered

Three cousins have been found guilty in connection with the murder of Stephen Carson in south Belfast.

Mr Carson, 28, died after being shot in the head through a bathroom door in his house in Walmer Street in February 2016.

Michael 'Spud' Smith, 40, and David 'Dee' Smith, 34, both of Monagh Drive in Belfast were found guilty of murder.

Francis Smith, 42, of Glenmurray Court, Belfast, was acquitted of murder, but convicted of four other offences.

He was charged with assisting offenders by allowing his premises to be used for the storing of firearms and ammunition used in the course of murder, and also possessing both a shotgun and ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

The murder weapon and cartridges were located in a holdall in a bag found in a wardrobe in Francis Smith's flat 25 hours after the fatal shooting.

Michael 'Spud' Smith and David 'Dee' Smith were handed life sentences following the unanimous verdicts.

Judge Geoffrey Miller told them that following the compilation of several reports, a sentence hearing will take place next month to determine the minimum time they will spend in prison before they are considered eligible for release by the Paroles Commission.

Despite pointing out that Francis Smith has been on bail for some time, his barrister was told by the judge that a custodial sentence was "inevitable", and he was remanded in custody.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The murder happened in Walmer Street, near the Ormeau Road in south Belfast, in February 2016

The judge described the trial as "lengthy, harrowing and one fraught with a lot of emotion".

He warned that any outbursts would not be tolerated, and would prompt him to clear the court.

However, after both the jury and judge left the court, and as the three Smith cousins were being handcuffed and led from the dock, the families of the deceased and the accused became involved in a heated verbal altercation, and had to be kept apart by police officers.

As she was leaving court, Mr Carson's mother who gave evidence in the trial, said she that while she was happy with the verdict, it would not bring her son back.

She also said her son was missed every day, and that the pain of his loss got harder every day.

Michael, David and Francis Smith were told a sentence hearing will be held on 20 December.

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