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Adrian Ismay murder: Man charged with killing warder seeks fresh post-mortem

By Deborah McAleese

The family of prison officer Adrian Ismay are facing further agony following demands from the bombing suspect for new medical evidence about the cause of death.

A lawyer for alleged killer Christopher Alphonsos Robinson, who was a St John Ambulance volunteer with Mr Ismay, has requested that a second post-mortem examination be carried out on the body of the 52-year-old father-of-three.

He has also demanded a review of the medical care Mr Ismay received after the booby trap bomb exploded under his van.

Mr Ismay died on Tuesday of a heart-attack triggered by a blood clot, 11 days after he was injured in the dissident republican attack.

Following his death, the PSNI upgraded their investigation to a murder inquiry.

Yesterday, Robinson, who was initially charged with attempted murder, was brought back before Belfast Magistrates Court and charged with murder.

His lawyer told the court there were issues in regard to the cause of Mr Ismay's death. He said he had requested a second post-mortem examination, to be carried out by Glasgow University pathologist Dr Marjorie Turner.

The lawyer added that he also wanted a review of Mr Ismay's treatment both in hospital and as an outpatient.

DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Craig last night said that he was "dismayed by this unexpected development".

"This man is entitled to a robust defence, but the unexpected consequence of this is that the knife is being twisted for Mr Ismay's family," he added. This will be causing further heartache for them.

"A bomb was put under Mr Ismay's van. This wasn't an attempt to cause him a few injuries, whoever did this wanted him dead.

"As I said, those accused of criminal offences have a right to challenge the case against them, but many will feel very uncomfortable at attempts to question the health professionals over their level of care to Mr Ismay."

According to friends of Mr Ismay, he had known 45-year-old Dunmurry man Robinson for a number of years through volunteer work.

They said that Mr Ismay had trained Robinson in essential life-saving skills and that he had thought "highly" of him.

"Adrian spoke very highly of Chris," a friend added. "He talked about how Chris was good with patients and the elderly."

There was a heavy police presence at Laganside Courthouse yesterday when Robinson was produced.

He refused to stand up in the dock as the murder charge was read to him. He also refused to reply when asked if he understood the charge against him.

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

Mr Ismay suffered leg injuries after the bomb partially detonated under the van he was driving near the Woodstock Road in east Belfast on March 4.

Dissident republican group, the New IRA, said it was responsible.

Mr Ismay was 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 yesterday, a detective sergeant said the new charge of murder was based on preliminary pathology findings.

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

Robinson was remanded in custody to reappear before the court via videolink on April 1.

A silent vigil organised by trade unions is to be held for Mr Ismay on Tuesday at Belfast City Hall at 1pm to demonstrate opposition to the dissident republican killing.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said the silent vigil would also provide an opportunity to show solidarity with Mr Ismay's family and other prison officers in Northern Ireland.

Peter Bunting, the assistant general secretary of the trade union body, added: "All workers across the communities that make up Northern Ireland must unite to ensure that our peace process will not be derailed."

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