Courtroom uproar as pair charged with Stephen Carson murder

Stephen Carson was murdered as he ate dinner with his partner and nine-year-old son
Stephen Carson was murdered as he ate dinner with his partner and nine-year-old son

There was uproar in court as two men appeared on a charge of carrying out a murder in south Belfast.

At one stage the public gallery had to be cleared as relatives of victim Stephen Carson reacted furiously to apparent gestures from his alleged killers.

Michael Smith, 37, and David Smith, 32, are jointly accused of murdering the 28-year-old at a house on Walmer Street last Thursday.

Mr Carson was shot in the head after armed men broke into the property while he was eating dinner with his partner and nine-year-old son.

He had tried to hide in a bathroom, but the attackers blasted him through the door with a shotgun.

Michael Smith, of Ardmonagh Gardens, and David Smith, from Monagh Drive – both in Belfast – were charged with his murder as part of an ongoing police investigation.

Heavy security was deployed at the city’s magistrates’ court ahead of their appearance.

As they were led into the dock Michael Smith appeared to be whistling.

Relatives and friends of the victim packed into the public area shouted out at the pair, with one woman declaring: “We have got youse now.”

Both men responded by smiling in their direction.

Michael Smith then appeared to rub his head and laugh, while his co-accused seemed to blow a kiss.

Amid wails from some of the victim’s family one representative responded by screaming: “Why are you f****** laughing?”

District Judge Fiona Bagnall ordered the courtroom to be cleared at that point.

She later allowed relatives to return to their seats, but warned that they would be barred for any further outbursts.

“I appreciate this is an emotional case for many, but you must contain your emotions and remain quiet,” Judge Bagnall stressed.

“I have to maintain the dignity of the court.”

After the murder charge was put to each accused their lawyers did not put any questions to the investigating detective.

David Smith’s solicitor set out his client’s complete denial of the allegation against him.

“He was not involved in the planning, preparation or commission of this murder,” the solicitor said.

Neither defendant made an application for bail.

They were both remanded in custody to appear again by video link later this month.

Michael Smith also faces unrelated charges of burglary with intent to steal, handling a stolen van and generator, and driving while disqualified.

Those alleged offences are connected to a break-in at a property in Ballymena, Co Antrim last year.