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Belfast man jailed for at least 22 years over murder of Northern Ireland prison officer

Adrian Ismay died 11 days after a bomb exploded underneath his van.

The funeral of prison officer Adrian Ismay in north Belfast.
The funeral of prison officer Adrian Ismay in north Belfast.
Image: PA

A DISSIDENT REPUBLICAN who killed an off-duty prison officer in Northern Ireland will serve a minimum of 22 years in prison, a judge said.

Christopher Robinson, 50, played an “intimate and inextricable” role in the death of devoted family man Adrian Ismay, Justice Gerry McAlinden said.

Ismay, a 52-year-old married father-of-three, died 11 days after suffering serious leg injuries when the Semtex bomb exploded underneath his van shortly after he had driven away from his east Belfast home in 2016.

Justice McAlinden told Belfast Crown Court: “His murder was perpetrated in pursuance of a twisted republican terrorist ideology.

The defendant played an important and integral role in planning and carrying out the terrorist operation which resulted in the death of Mr Ismay.

Robinson has been given a life sentence for the murder but will be eligible to apply for release under licence after 22 years, the judge said.

The extremist group that styles itself as the “New IRA” claimed to have carried out the attack on the long-serving officer.

Ismay was released from hospital after the blast on 4 March and had been making good progress, but he died unexpectedly less than two weeks later when a blood clot linked to the attack triggered a heart attack.

He had worked at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders’ Centre in south Belfast, where he trained new recruits to the Prison Service.

christopher-robinson-court-case Adrian Ismay. Source: PA

He was a St John Ambulance volunteer and deeply committed to all parts of the community, the judge said. His family has been left bereft.

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Robinson was entirely without remorse, the court heard.

Justice McAlinden added: “In our troubled society prison officers and police officers have been regularly targeted at home and off duty simply because in those environments they are deemed to be easier targets.

“In such circumstances the need for deterrence can be no less acute and obvious.”

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