Belfast Telegraph

Judge orders prison officer murder accused's brother to give evidence after no-show

Christopher Robinson
Christopher Robinson

By John Cassidy

The brother of a man who's on trial accused of murdering prison officer Adrian Ismay has been ordered to appear in court by next Monday or face arrest.

Peter Robinson was due to give evidence yesterday at the non-jury trial of his brother Christopher Alphonsos Robinson, who denies murdering Mr Ismay (52) on March 4, 2016.

The 46-year-old, of Apsen Walk, Dunmurry, also denies charges of possessing an improvised explosive device and providing money or property for the purposes of terrorism.

When the trial resumed this week after an eight-month adjournment a colleague of Peter Robinson claimed in court that the accused's brother had disabled the CCTV at a west Belfast youth hostel where they both worked.

The youth support worker said that this happened on March 3, 2016 - the evening before a bomb exploded under Mr Ismay's blue Volkswagen Transporter vehicle after he left his home at Hillsborough Drive in east Belfast.

Mr Ismay (right) initially survived the blast but the father-of-three died 11 days later.

The hostel worker said the CCTV was disabled in the main office by Peter Robinson, who told him: "Our Christy is calling to the hostel."

At Belfast Crown Court yesterday a medical note was presented to the court relating to Peter Robinson.

A lawyer representing him said he had a history of panic attacks and his attendance "would cause significant deterioration in his mental state".

The lawyer also said previous police assessments found that he was at an increased risk of becoming a target for dissident republicans if he took part in the case.

But trial Judge Mr Justice McAlinden said he had reviewed the medical evidence and the reports. He said he didn't consider the potential impact (of attending) the case "outweighs the need for him to attend to give evidence in this matter".

Mr Justice McAlinden said that Peter Robinson will be asked to attend on Monday morning to give evidence. If he fails to attend, it will be the court's intention to issue the appropriate warrant.

Several members of staff from the west Belfast youth hostel also gave evidence at the Diplock-style trial.

A team leader who has worked at the hostel for 14 years said she would access the CCTV system if there were any incidents at the hostel or if police called to view about incidents on the street outside.

A number of other members of staff confirmed to the court that the CCTV system was working on the evening of March 3, 2016.

They said that Peter Robinson was one of two members of staff who took over from them on the night shift at 8pm.

Mr Justice McAlinden heard that they saw him arriving in his Citroen C3 car "through the window and on the CCTV'' parking the vehicle outside the front of the hostel between 7.20pm and 7.25pm.

It is the prosecution's case that the C3 vehicle containing the bomb was driven by Christopher Robinson to Mr Ismay's home.

At hearing.

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