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Man charged with murder of Belfast bomb attack prison officer Adrian Ismay

By Laura Abernethy and Alan Erwin

Published 18/03/2016

Prison officer Adrian Ismay died after being injured in a bomb attack in Belfast (Department of Justice/PA)
Prison officer Adrian Ismay died after being injured in a bomb attack in Belfast (Department of Justice/PA)
Adrian volunteering with St John Ambulance
Adrian Ismay with Joe Murphy, the father of Joby Murphy who died after falling into the River Lagan
Adrian Ismay
Prison officer Adrian Ismay

A man accused of a bomb attack on a prison officer in Belfast was brought back to court today to face a new charge of his murder.

Christopher Alphonsos Robinson (45) had previously been remanded on a count of trying to kill Adrian Ismay.

But following the 52-year-old officer's death on Tuesday, 11 days after the attack, Robinson now faces the more serious charge.

Read more: Vigil for Adrian Ismay to be held

The accused, of Aspen Park in Dunmurry, appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court amid heavy police presence.

Dressed in a light-grey T-shirt, he refused to stand up in the dock as the charge or murdering Mr Ismay was put to him.

He is further charged with possessing an improvised explosive device with intent to endanger life.

Asked repeatedly if he understood the alleged offences, Robinson declined to reply as he gazed around the courtroom.

Mr Ismay (52) suffered leg injuries after an explosive device partially detonated under the van he was driving on Hillsborough Drive off the Woodstock Road just after 7am on Friday March 4

Dissident republican group the New IRA said it was responsible.

The father-of-three, had been discharged from hospital, but subsequently died of a heart attack.

A post-mortem examination was said to have confirmed the cardiac failure was linked to the injuries he suffered.

In court today a detective sergeant set out how the new charge of murder is based on preliminary pathology findings.

The heart attack was connected to a blood clot following explosion injuries to Mr Ismay's legs, the court heard.

Defence solicitor Padraig O Muirigh revealed that a second autopsy is to be carried out.

Consultant Forensic Pathologist Dr Marjorie Turner, from Glasgow University, is to carry out the process either today or on Monday after receiving clearance from the coroner.

Mr O Muirigh also disclosed plans to examine the prison officer's medical care since the bomb attack, including his outpatient treatment.

"This raises issues around causation," he told the court.

With no application for bail, Robinson was remanded back into custody until April 1.

Judge Austin Kennedy said he will appear again on that date by video-link for a progress report.

The charge was changed to murder in the wake of Mr Ismay's death on Tuesday.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Richard Campbell said: “Following liaison with the Public Prosecution Service the 45 year male previously charged with attempted murder in relation to the death of Prison Officer Adrian Ismay has now been charged with murder and will appear before Belfast Magistrates Court later this morning.”

Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to the "gentle giant" who also volunteered for Community Rescue Service (CRS) in Belfast and he had previously volunteered for St John Ambulance.

The father of Joby Murphy, who died after falling into the River Lagan, said Mr Ismay was with him right to the end as he searched for his son.

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