Belfast Telegraph

Court shown footage of explosion that killed prison officer Adrian Ismay

Prison officer Adrian Ismay
Prison officer Adrian Ismay
Adrian Ismay died after a bomb exploded underneath his van in east Belfast (Department of Justice/PA)

By Michael Donnelly

The dramatic CCTV footage of a terrorist attempt to blow-up prison officer Adrian Ismay was played in court at the trial of a west Belfast man accused of murdering the 52-year-old father of three.

The non-jury, Belfast Crown Court trial has already heard that the footage of the March 2016 explosion outside Mr Ismay's Hillsborough Drive home was uncovered from an east Belfast Willowfield Funeral Home whose security camera overlooked the scene.

The footage captured Mr Ismay's blue VW van driving towards the Cregagh Road shortly after 7am on the morning of March 4. However, it never reached the junction. As the van approached a ramp, suddenly a booby-trap device exploded under the vehicle.

The front bumper of the van is blown off, as black smoke, debris and dust from the blast could clearly be seen billowing up around the van before Mr Ismay limps from the driver's side to the passenger side and opens that door. Ultimately three passersby come to his aid, helping him across the street to a side wall.

The court had already heard that as he sat on the pavement, the St John's Ambulance man and member of the Community Service Volunteers directed those helping him how to bandage and treat his wounds.

Although seriously injured in the no-warning undercar blast, Mr Ismay initially survived the attack, spending four days in hospital before dying from a heart attack a week later on March 15, after complaining of chest pains.

Watching a video of the CCTV footage from the dock was 48-year-old Christopher Alphonson Robinson, from Aspen Park, Poleglass. He denies the murder of Mr Ismay, possessing the undercar improvised explosive device, and alternatively, supplying a vehicle knowing or suspecting it would be used in terrorism.

The man accused of Adrian Ismay's murder, Christopher Robinson, outside court.

Trial judge Mr Justice McAlinden had heard the footage was uncovered by police who "trolled" local shops and businesses for any security camera film that may have captured what happened. In addition to securing film of the moment of the no-warning blast, their investigations also turned up, what the prosecution claim is film of the bomber's car, a red coloured Citroen C3.

Footage of the car was also played to the court, allegedly showing it as it drove through Belfast, until it was then seen driving past Mr Ismay's home, shortly before 2.30am. It then returns, parking up, its headlights off. Moments later someone running down the street was pictured getting into the back of the C3 before driving off, its headlights still switched off.

The prosecution claim that the Citroen car belonged to Robinson's the sister-in-law. While a senior scientific officer said that traces of RDX explosive were found on swabs taken from the rear of the C3, he agreed with the defence that "so minute" were the traces that they could have been three to four times removed from any direct contact with the military grade explosives.

The man accused of Adrian Ismay's murder, Christopher Robinson, outside court.
The man accused of Adrian Ismay's murder, Christopher Robinson, outside court.

In addition to the alleged 29 sightings of the C3 allegedly captured by CCTV cameras, including police cameras and security equipment mounted on shops and local businesses, the court was also shown the alleged 26 sightings of Robinson's own silver-coloured Skoda car and the routes it took earlier that evening.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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