Brother of Adrian Ismay murder accused takes stand but uses right not to give evidence
A man ordered to appear as a witness in a trial where his brother stands accused of murder arrived at the hearing yesterday, but refused to answer questions on the grounds he may incriminate himself.
Christopher Robinson is accused of murdering prison officer Adrian Ismay (52), who died in March 2016, 11 days after a bomb exploded under his van close to his east Belfast home.
The accused's brother, Peter Robinson, was due to give evidence earlier in the trial, but failed to attend citing medical reasons. This prompted Mr Justice McAlinden to order that he attend or an arrest warrant would be issued.
At the time of the murder Peter Robinson worked at a youth hostel in west Belfast and was due to answer questions about claims he disabled the CCTV system the night before the bomb exploded and told a colleague "our Christy is calling".
It's the Crown's case that a red Citroen C3 containing the bomb was driven by Christopher Robinson to Mr Ismay's Hillsborough Drive home - the same make and model Peter Robinson drove to work prior to the explosion.
Christopher Alphonson Robinson (48), from Aspen Park in Poleglass, has been charged with murdering Mr Ismay, possessing an improvised explosive device and providing money or property for the purposes of terrorism. He has denied all the charges.
Peter Robinson's barrister Martin O'Rourke QC revealed that, in the aftermath of the murder, his client was arrested and questioned and was therefore a suspect.
Mr O'Rourke said that, over a five-day period in March 2016, Peter Robinson was interviewed 13 times under caution. He was rearrested in February 2017, and on this occasion he was interviewed six times.
The barrister said Peter Robinson "refused to answer any questions other than to state his name and address" and revealed he "provided to the police a pre-prepared statement through his solicitor".
Mr O'Rourke said the questions put to Mr Robinson during these interviews included:
• Lending his vehicle, which the Crown allege was involved in the murder.
• The turning off of CCTV at the hostel when the car was "borrowed" and "returned".
• The deletion of text messages between him and "another person".
• The removal of "relevant evidence" from the car
Mr O'Rourke said that it was his client's right not to incriminate himself and could therefore invoke the privilege not to answer questions as a witness.
Peter Robinson was then called to give evidence and was advised of his right not to incriminate himself by Mr Justice McAlinden.
The judge told the witness that if there was a question asked that ran the risk of prosecution, or increased the risk of prosecution, he had a right not to answer that question.
A Crown barrister then posed a series of questions to Mr Robinson, none of which he answered.
The prosecutor said he had no further questions, and said the Crown intended to rely on the statement given to police.