Northern Ireland

Man charged with attempted murder in Belfast in 1977

A man has appeared in court charged with the attempted murder of a prison officer in north Belfast in 1977.

Michael Burns, 64, of Cliftonville Avenue in north Belfast, spoke only to confirm he understood the charges.

The court heard that the intended target of the June 1977 murder attempt had fired his personal protection weapon at his attackers.

A detective said blood and fingerprints found at the scene of the crime had been found to belong to the defendant.

On 28 June 1977, two men on a hijacked motorbike pulled up at the prison officer's house and one of them pointed a gun at the officer, the court was told.

The officer fired shots at them with his protection weapon.

One man was later convicted of the attempted murder. The court heard that Mr Burns left Northern Ireland after the attack.

The detective also said police had interviewed the defendant in relation to the murder of a prison officer in the 1970s and had sent a report about that to the PPS.

The police and prosecution opposed bail on the grounds that there was a risk the accused might leave the jurisdiction, but a defence lawyer said Mr Burns suffered from ill health and had been living openly in Northern Ireland for the last 15 years.

The district judge granted bail because of the defendant's health and because the accused had not been convicted of any crime since 1977.

He will appear in court next month.