Adrian Ismay murder: Christopher Robinson found guilty

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Christopher RobinsonImage source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
Christopher Robinson was linked to the murder by DNA and CCTV evidence

A west Belfast man has been found guilty of murdering a prison officer who died 11 days after a bomb exploded under his van in 2016.

Adrian Ismay, 52, died in hospital after he was injured in the explosion close to his home at Hillsborough Drive in east Belfast.

Christopher Robinson, 49, from Aspen Walk, had denied the murder.

The judge at Belfast Crown Court said Robinson was "intimately and inextricably involved" in the murder.

Robinson was also found guilty of possessing an improvised explosive device.

The non-jury trial heard that Robinson knew his victim from their time volunteering together for St John Ambulance.

Image source, Ismay Family
Image caption,
Adrian Ismay had volunteered with St John Ambulance along with Robinson

Speaking after the judge's ruling on Friday, one of the detectives who investigated the case said he hoped the conviction would provide comfort for Mr Ismay's wife and three children.

"They will be reliving the horror of what happened," said Det Sup Richard Campbell.

Mr Ismay had just left his home and was driving along Hillsborough Drive at about 07:00 GMT on 4 March 2016 when the bomb planted under his van detonated.

In spite of appearing to make a good recovery from shrapnel injuries, he died 11 days later.

The judge said Robinson was linked to the murder by evidence including his DNA on a Poppy Appeal sticker that was removed from a vehicle containing traces of Semtex.

He also said CCTV footage clearly showed the vehicle - which was registered to Robinson's sister-in-law - outside Mr Ismay's home when the bomb was planted.

Image source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
The bomb exploded under Adrian Ismay's van as he drove over a speed ramp near his home

The judge added that CCTV at the workplace of Robinson's brother had been disabled several times by his sibling so he could not be filmed visiting him.

Robinson's high level of online interest into the treatment of dissident republican prisoners - as well as internet searches about militant republican activity - was further evidence cited by the judge.

Mr Ismay's family embraced each other as the verdict was read in court.

He had been a prison officer for almost 30 years.

In a police interview from hospital just days before his death, Mr Ismay said he and Robinson "never had cross words" and "got on well" during their three to four years volunteering together.

Robinson was remanded into custody and the minimum term he will serve in prison will be determined at a later date.