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Armed police guard courtroom as man accused of bombing injuring prison officer

Published 12/03/2016

The scene of the explosion that left a prison officer injured
The scene of the explosion that left a prison officer injured
A prison officer injured after bomb explodes under van om the Woodstock Road in Belfast. Army Bomb Disposal at at the scene. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Forensic experts examine under the vehicle which was targeted

Armed police guarded the courtroom as a man was charged with attempting to murder a prison officer in Northern Ireland.

Christopher Alphonsos Robinson, 45, yawned and refused to stand as he was accused of the East Belfast bombing on March 4.

Officers trained for dealing with riots stood between a crowd of his supporters and the main body of the city centre court room.

The victim, a married father-of-three aged 52, required surgery for severe leg injuries after an explosive device detonated under the van he was driving.

A dissident republican group calling itself the New IRA, which opposes the peace process, claimed to have carried out the bombing.

Police have warned there could be more attacks ahead of this month's centenary of the Easter Rising which marked Irish rebellion against Britain.

They said they had prevented a number of murder bids since last week's blast.

The threat to members of the security forces in Northern Ireland is severe from gunmen opposed to the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement which largely ended decades of the Troubles.

Senior officers have said there are several hundred active dissidents.

A sizeable group of his friends applauded Robinson, from Aspen Park in Dunmurry in West Belfast, and jeered at the judge at Belfast Magistrates' Court as the defendant was led away in handcuffs.

He was charged after undergoing 16 interviews, his lawyer told the courtroom.

He said "no evidence was actually put" to the defendant to link him to the attack.

The suspect was also accused of possession of an explosive with the intention to endanger life.

No bail application was made and he was remanded in custody by district judge Harry McKibbin after a detective sergeant connected him to the charges.

The accused is due to appear via video link before the same court on Friday April 1 for a review hearing.

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