Northern Ireland

Adrian Ismay murder: Accused was 'unaware of incident'

Christopher Robinson Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Christopher Robinson denies killing Mr Ismay

A west Belfast man who was arrested after a bomb detonated under a prison officer's van said he had no knowledge of the incident, Belfast Crown Court has heard.

Christopher Robinson, 49, from Aspen Park in Twinbrook, is standing trial for the murder of Adrian Ismay in March 2016.

Details of his interview after his arrest were released on Thursday.

Mr Robinson denies all charges against him.

'No knowledge or involvement'

On Thursday, the court heard that the accused was interview a total of 16 times between 7 - 11 March.

During these interviews he spoke to confirm his name, date of birth and that he understood the nature of his arrest.

He also requested an appropriate adult due to mental health issues.

Image caption A bomb detonated under Adrian Ismay's van in the Cregagh area of Belfast

The prosecutor said that apart from two short statements, Christopher Robinson refused to answer questions over the course of all interviews.

In his statement, he confirmed he had been arrested on suspicion of the attempted murder of an off-duty prison officer, but said "I have no knowledge of this incident, nor did I have involvement in it".

He also confirmed that he knew Mr Ismay as they were both members of St John's Ambulance based on the Saintfield road, and that Mr Ismay had been his senior officer.

'Never been to Ismay home'

Mr Robinson said they had a "good relationship" but that they had not kept in touch since Mr Ismay left around three years before.

He added that they did no socialise, apart from attending the Ambulance Christmas dinner four years ago.

Mr Robinson said he had never been to Mr Ismay's home, that he had "no knowledge" of the car he drove and that the fire time he became aware of the attack was when he saw it on the news.

The statement added: "The first time I heard his name being mentioned was when the police came to my home on 6 March 2017 and I was asked to account for my movements and the movements of a Citroen C3."

He said his brother drove a Citroen, he did not know if the model was the same, and that he had been in his brother's car, but not between 3 - 6 March 2016.

Image copyright iSmay family
Image caption Adrian Ismay died 11 days after he was injured when a bomb exploded under his van

The device detonated around 0700 on Friday 4 March, and in his statement, Mr Robinson said that on March 3 and 4 he mostly stayed at home but visited his mother and walked the dog.

The day he was arrested - 6 March 2016 - was mother's day.

Robinson said he had spent it with his family.

"I came home at 1900 and the police arrived at my house around an hour after I got back," he said.

"I was shocked I was arrested in relation to this matter."

'Not a member of New IRA'

In a second statement Mr Robinson denied he was a dissident republican.

"I am not, I never have been, nor will I be a member of a proscribed organisation," he said.

"I deny I am an active member of the New IRA."

During the hearing, the Crown has made the case that a red Citroen C3 containing the bomb was driven by Christopher Robinson to Mr Ismay's home - the same make and model Peter Robinson, Christopher's brother, drove to work hours before the device exploded.

Adrian Ismay survived the initial bomb explosion which happened close to his home in Hillsborough Drive in east Belfast, but died 11 days later.

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