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Stephen Carson murder: Man charged with possessing rifle and ammunition is remanded in custody

By Alan Erwin

Published 02/03/2016

Stephen Carson was shot dead in his home in Walmer Street, near the Ormeau Road in south Belfast
Stephen Carson was shot dead in his home in Walmer Street, near the Ormeau Road in south Belfast

A man was remanded in custody today on a weapons charge linked to a shotgun murder in south Belfast.

Francis Gerard Smith appeared before the city's Magistrates Court accused of possessing a rifle and 50 rounds of ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

The 39-year-old, of Springfield Road in Belfast, was charged by detectives investigating circumstances surrounding the killing of Stephen Carson last week.

Two men have already been charged with murdering the 28-year-old.

Mr Carson was shot in the head after armed men broke into a house on Walmer Street while he was eating dinner with his partner and nine-year-old son on February 25.

He had tried to hide in a bathroom, but the attackers blasted him through the door with a shotgun.

Michael Smith, 37, of Ardmonagh Gardens, and 32-year-old David Smith, from Monagh Drive - both in Belfast - are jointly accused of the murder.

On Tuesday there had been uproar in court when they entered in the dock, with police called to restore order after a judge cleared the public gallery.

But there was no repeat of those scenes today as Francis Smith appeared to face a charge of possessing a firearm the day after the shooting.

Dressed in a blue T-shirt, he smiled and gave a thumbs-up signal to supporters in the courtroom.

An investigating detective said she could connect him to the alleged offence.

Defence solicitor Philip Breen put no questions to the officer and made no application for bail.

Instead, District Judge Fiona Bagnall remanded Smith in custody to appear again by video-link on March 30

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