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Murder bid trial to halt after death

A Crown Court judge is to halt proceedings linked to the attempted murder of an off-duty prison officer at the height of the Troubles due to the recent death of the man accused of the attack.

Yesterday at Belfast Crown Court, it emerged that north Belfast man Michael Burns (67) - who was charged with the 1977 murder bid - died and was buried in Meath last month.

Mr Burns, from Cliftonville Avenue, was charged with three counts arising from a gun attack carried out in Belfast on June 28, 1977. He was charged with attempting to murder the prison officer, of possessing firearms with intent to endanger life, and of possessing firearms in suspicious circumstances.

At a previous hearing, it emerged that the target of the murder bid fired his protection weapon when two men on a hijacked motorbike pulled up at his Oldpark Avenue house and pointed a gun at him. Whilst one man was convicted of attempted murder, Mr Burns left Northern Ireland, but later returned.

Judge McFarland said that upon receipt of the death certificate, he will formally "discontinue proceedings due to the death of the accused".

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