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Murder victim Stephen Carson knew he was target 'and planned own funeral'

 

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Shot dead: Stephen Carson

Shot dead: Stephen Carson

Shot dead: Stephen Carson

The mother and fiancee of murdered Belfast man Stephen Carson have said they are relieved his killers are behind bars.

Mr Carson was gunned down in his home in February 2016 while his young son and partner were present.

Three cousins were jailed yesterday in connection with what police described as a "callous, brutal murder".

Michael 'Spud' Smith (40) and David 'Dee Dee' Smith (35), who were both convicted of murder, will spend at least 20 years behind bars.

Francis Smith (42) was handed a seven-and-a-half year sentence for his role after the murder, which included allowing the murder weapon to be stored in his flat.

Mr Carson's mother Bernie Murphy and partner Naomi Smyth both gave evidence during the trial.

After yesterday's sentencing they said they were relieved Mr Carson's killers had been taken off the streets.

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Ms Smyth said she had just got engaged at the time and the couple had been trying for a baby.

Mrs Murphy said her grandson, now aged 11 and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, is "just not the same wee boy".

Mr Carson's fiancee said the horrific events of that night would never leave her.

"I will never forget it, what they did. You see stuff like that on the news, but you never think it's going to come to your door," she said.

"He knew what was going to happen. He even planned his own funeral.

"Even though I'm happy at the sentence they got today, it's never going to be enough. It's not going to bring Stephen back."

Both women acknowledged Mr Carson was "no angel", but said he had been trying to turn his life around in the months before his death.

Remembering him as a "charmer", Ms Smyth added: "When he was good, he was good. If we had words or whatever, once that smile of his came out, that was it. I find it hard to go to his grave, but I will go up at Christmas."

Mr Carson's mother said the whole family, including his siblings, had been deeply affected.

"We are just not the same any more. Everything has changed. His son is just not the same wee boy," she said.

Stephen's father Paul Carson added: "I'm just glad it's over and we got justice for my son."

There was a heavy police presence in court yesterday.

Speaking outside, Detective Chief Inspector Pete McKenna welcomed the sentences for what he called a "callous, brutal murder".

"I want to pay tribute to Stephen's family, including his fiancee, who have remained dignified and supported our investigation throughout," he said.

He added that he hoped putting those responsible behind bars would bring some form of comfort.


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