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MP: Disgrace that murder suspect escapes bail checks

By Rebecca Black

Published 14/09/2016

Christopher Robinson
Christopher Robinson

MP Gavin Robinson has voiced concerns in the House of Commons after it emerged that police officers have been told not to conduct bail checks on the man accused of murdering prison officer Adrian Ismay.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday that terror suspects implicated in two separate prison officer murders were free to associate with each other at a dissident republican rally.

Christopher Robinson and Damien McLaughlin - both on court bail - were photographed chatting at a dissident republican rally.

There is nothing to prevent them from associating with other terror suspects or convicted terrorists.

It was also revealed that police officers have been told not to conduct bail checks on Robinson, who has been returned to court three times for breaching his bail conditions.

An email was issued to officers in Belfast from a police sergeant advising them not to call at Robinson's house at Aspen Park in Dunmurry. It stated that, as Robinson had been fitted with an electronic tag, the security firm G4S could monitor his movements.

A PSNI spokesman said: "If a person is required to wear an electronic tag as part of their bail conditions, there is no reason for police to duplicate this monitoring unless otherwise requested or directed by the investigating officer or senior police officer or the court."

East Belfast MP Mr Robinson spoke out on the matter during a Westminster Hall debate on compensation for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism.

"This year a citizen of this country, a serving prison officer, somebody who believed in his community ... was blown up by Semtex with origins from Libya," he said.

"And the chief suspect in that case is walking the streets of Belfast today on bail. Having breached his bail on three separate occasions and returned to court, he still walks the streets today.

"I received information at the weekend that PSNI chiefs sent an email to their officers not to conduct bail checks because it was generating far too many complaints from his solicitor and offending his sensitivities.

"Offending the sensitivities of a man who is alleged to be the murderer of my constituent in March - and the police are concerned about his sensitivities."

Mr Ismay (52) was injured when a device exploded underneath his van in east Belfast on March 4 and later died. A dissident republican group calling itself the New IRA, which opposes the peace process, claimed to have carried out the attack.

A PSNI spokesman said: "Police will continue to rigorously, but impartially, enforce all bail conditions set by the courts and we will not hesitate to arrest those who breach their bail conditions, so they can be brought back before the court to ensure that the court has all the necessary information to allow it to decide if continuing bail is appropriate or to remand in custody, if necessary."

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