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Police officers 'urged to halt bail checks on prison officer murder accused'

Published 13/09/2016

Prison officer Adrian Ismay (Department of Justice/PA)
Prison officer Adrian Ismay (Department of Justice/PA)

Police chiefs have advised officers to stop conducting bail checks on the man accused of murdering prison officer Adrian Ismay, an MP has claimed.

Democratic Unionist Gavin Robinson said a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) email called for changes as the checks resulted in "far too many complaints" from the suspect's solicitor and it was seen as "offending his sensitivities".

Mr Robinson made the claim during a parliamentary debate focused on securing compensation for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism.

Mr Ismay, 52, suffered injuries when a device exploded underneath his van in east Belfast on March 4 and died later that month.

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

Christopher Alphonsos Robinson, from Aspen Park in Dunmurry, west Belfast, has been charged with the murder of Mr Ismay.

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate, MP Mr Robinson (Belfast East) criticised the lack of legal aid support for victims of the 1982 Hyde Park bomb attack as they seek to pursue a civil case.

He said: " There are many perpetrators of violence against the state who run to the courts, who get support, who continue to claim that they need further compensation or transparency or justice from the state - those who perpetrated violence against the state and our citizens.

"If we are able, and it sticks in our craw, to stand up for them then I think it is incumbent for the victims of Libya-sponsored IRA violence.

"I want to particularly focus just on one case this year in March when a constituent of mine, Adrian Ismay, was blown up by a bomb planted by the new IRA containing Semtex, which is presumed - since there have been no recent purchases - that it is of the same origin and extraction, sourced from the Czech Republic, through Libya to the IRA and disseminated through their splinter organisations.

"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.

"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."

A PSNI spokesman, in a statement, 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.

"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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