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Adrian Ismay: Emotional scenes in court as bereaved family cry and hug at end of lengthy trial

Adrian Ismay

It was an agonising wait for the loved ones of prison officer Adrian Ismay.

They had endured a lengthy non-jury trial which had lasted for over a year.

Yesterday their wait for justice was over.

Mr Justice McAlinden took nearly five hours to read his forensically detailed judgment in the Queen's Bench No 2 courtroom at Belfast High Court.

Throughout, the defendant, Christopher Alphonsos Robinson - wearing a grey jumper - stared mostly straight ahead, chewing what appearing to be gum. There was a heavy security presence for the hearing, with armed officers guarding the courtroom's exits.

Meanwhile, Mr Ismay's loved ones sat in the public gallery carefully following Mr Justice McAlinden's every word from his thick document, outlining his judgment.

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Christopher Robinson

Christopher Robinson

Photopress Belfast

Christopher Robinson

The judge outlined every strand of the evidence - presented by both the Crown and the defence.

The latter had insisted the only evidence against Robinson had been circumstantial.

The prosecution had maintained the evening before the explosion, Robinson picked up the Citroen from his brother's west Belfast workplace, and that this vehicle was used to transport the bomb left under Mr Ismay's van. Listening intently as page and page of the judgment was read out, worried expressions appeared on some of Mr Ismay's loved ones' faces when Mr Justice McAlinden stated that he would not draw any "adverse inference" into Robinson's decision not to take the stand.

At one stage a young woman was comforted by a hand on a shoulder.

Their fears only seemed to fall away towards the close of the judgment, when Mr Justice McAlinden - who added that he had examined the case as a whole - outlined Robinson's "intimate" role in the killing.

The judge said evidence had shown the defendant had accessed online material which was militant republican in nature.

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The funeral of Adrian Ismay in Belfast in 2015

The funeral of Adrian Ismay in Belfast in 2015

The funeral of Adrian Ismay in Belfast in 2015

Robinson had searched online on multiple occasions for news articles reporting the aftermath of the attack on Mr Ismay's vehicle. The judge outlined CCTV movements of the Citroen - registered to Robinson's sister-in-law - outside Mr Ismay's home when the bomb was planted.

The judge said Robinson was linked to the murder through evidence which included his DNA on a poppy appeal sticker that was removed from a vehicle containing traces of Semtex. But Mr Ismay's family were still holding on to hear only one word: guilty.

When the word was uttered, the relief was palpable; they cried and hugged each other as Robinson was led out of the courtroom.

Belfast Telegraph