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Slain prison officer Adrian Ismay 'never had cross words' with murder accused

Adrian Ismay
Adrian Ismay
Police at the scene of the bomb in March 2016

By Ashleigh McDonald

A prison officer who died 11 days after a bomb exploded under his van spoke to police from his hospital bed and said he "never had cross words" with the man later accused of his murder.

Adrian Ismay was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital on March 4, 2016 after a bomb detonated under his blue Volkswagen van as he was driving from his home in the Cregagh area of Belfast.

For around four years the 52-year old father-of-three volunteered with St John's Ambulance at the same time as west Belfast man Christopher Robinson, who is currently standing trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Robinson (48) from Aspen Park in Twinbrook has been charged with murdering Mr Ismay, possessing an improvised explosive device and providing money or property for the purposes of terrorism.

Three days after the bomb exploded, police investigating the incident interviewed Ismay as he lay injured in the Royal Victoria Hospital. From his hospital bed, Mr Ismay gave a statement confirming he knew Christopher Robinson.

He described his former fellow volunteer physically and said he spoke with a west Belfast accent. Mr Ismay told police: "The last time I seen him was more than two years ago when I worked for St John's Ambulance based at Saintfield Road in Belfast.

"We both worked there as volunteers. I solely knew him on a work basis and never socialised with him. He had never been to my home and I had never been to his.

"During the three to four years that I worked along with him we never had cross words, we never had any run ins, we actually got on well. We never discussed any topics to do with religion or politics.

"I have been in the prison service for approximately 29 years, so I am pretty certain he would have been aware of my career."

The non-jury Diplock trial heard Mr Ismay applied to become a volunteer with St John's Ambulance in March 1998, with Robinson applying in February 2010. It also emerged that Mr Ismay was "involved" in Robinson's application process "on behalf of" the organisation.

Tuesday's sitting also heard a statement from Mark Patterson, the Governor of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

Mr Watterson confirmed that Mr Ismay joined the Prison Service in September 1987 and worked in the Maze before being transferred to Hydebank YOC in August 1994.

Mr Ismay was promoted in July 2014 and was transferred to the Prison Service Training College in Millisle, where he acted as a tutor for others.

In his statement, Mr Watterson said Mr Ismay had never been posted to HMP Maghaberry, or had been involved in training in Roe House - the dissident wing at the prison.

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