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Stephen Carson murder part of feud, Belfast court told

A shotgun murder in south Belfast is linked to a previous samurai sword attack on one of the alleged killers, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors said 28-year-old Stephen Carson was blasted in the head last year as part of a feud stretching back to 2010.

Details emerged as one of two men charged with the murder was refused compassionate bail to attend his son's confirmation ceremony.

Michael Smith, 38, of Ardmonagh Gardens in the city, has been identified as firing the fatal shot, it was claimed.

Mr Carson was killed after men broke into a house at Walmer Street while he was eating dinner with his partner and nine-year-old son on February 25, 2016.

The intruders were armed with a sawn-off shotgun, hammer and incapacity spray.

The victim tried to hide, but was shot in the head through a bathroom door.

Crown lawyer Fiona O'Kane said Smith was arrested a day later at an address where police found weapons and ammunition - including a shotgun forensically confirmed as being used in the killing.

She also disclosed that accused was picked out as being the gunman at an identification process.

"Police believe the murder has all the hallmarks of a feud going on for some time," the barrister said.

"Back in 2010 this application himself was involved in an altercation and taken to hospital with a serious injury to his arm caused by a samurai sword."

Police investigating that attack went to a house in west Belfast where up to seven men were arrested, including Mr Carson.

While in hospital at the time Smith allegedly declined to make a statement of complaint, telling officers: "They are of no use to me inside."

Mrs O'Kane contended: "Police take that to mean he had his own plans for those responsible for threatening him."

It was also revealed that one of the two men named as being allegedly involved in the sword attack, Kieran McManus, was shot dead at Kennedy Way in Belfast in 2013.

Smith has never been charged with any offences connected to the McManus killing.

Defence counsel Jon Paul Shields argued that his client could be temporarily released from custody again after abiding by a previous compassionate bail for a family funeral.

But Mr Justice Deeny identified a possible risk of interfering with a key witness in the case.

He also held that the confirmation of Smith's son was of "less consequence" to him than the funeral had been.

Denying bail, the judge added: "It's going to be attended by scores, perhaps more, of little children, their parents and the necessary clergy.

"To require them to share their pews  and the the ceremony with a man who, on the Crown's case, will be convicted of a very brutal murder seems to me a step which I should not take." ends 

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