A west Belfast man arrested after a bomb detonated under the van of a prison officer said he had no knowledge of the incident, was not involved and was not a member of the New IRA, a court has heard.
Full details of Christopher Robinson’s interviews with police emerged for the first time at Belfast Crown Court, where the 49-year-old is standing trial for the murder of Adrian Ismay.
The 52-year-old father of three died in March 2016 – 11 days after a bomb detonated under his van close to his Hillsborough Drive home in east Belfast.
Robinson, from Aspen Park in Twinbrook, denies charges of murdering Mr Ismay, possessing an improvised explosive device and providing money or property for the purposes of terrorism.
Just before the Crown closed its case to Mr Justice McAlinden, a barrister read an agreed statement which revealed details from police interviews conducted with Robinson following his arrest on Sunday March 6, 2016.
Robinson was interviewed a total of 16 times under caution between March 7 and 11 and spoke to confirm his name, date of birth and that he understood the nature of his arrest. He also requested an appropriate adult due to mental health issues.
The prosecutor said that apart from two short statements, Robinson refused to answer questions over the course of the 16 interviews.
In his statement, Robinson confirmed he had been arrested on suspicion of the attempted murder of an off-duty prison officer, but said “I have no knowledge of this incident, nor did I have involvement in it”.
Robinson also confirmed he knew Adrian Ismay as they were both members of St John’s Ambulance based on Belfast’s Saintfield Road, and that Mr Ismay had been his senior officer.
He said he had a “good relationship” with Mr Ismay, but they had not kept in touch after Mr Ismay left around three years earlier.
He also said they never socialised – apart from both attending a St John’s Ambulance Christmas dinner in a Belfast hote four yeare earlier.
Robinson said he had never been to Mr Ismay’s home, had “no knowledge” of the car he was driving, and said the first time he became aware of an attack on the off-duty prison officer was when he heard it on the news.
The statement also said: “The first time I heard his name being mentioned was when the police came to my home on the 6th of March 2016, and I was asked to account for my movements and the movements of a Citroen C3.”
He said his brother drove a Citroen, he didn’t know whether this was the same model, and that he had been in his brother’s car – but not between March 3 or 6, 2016.
The device detonated around 7am on Friday March 4, and in his statement, Robinson said that on March 3 and 4, he mostly stayed at home but visited his mother and walked the dog.
On the day of his arrest on Sunday March 6, Robinson said that as this was Mother’s Day, he had spent it with his family. He said: “I came home at 7pm and the police arrived at my house around an hour after I got back. I was shocked I was arrested in relation to this matter.”
In a second statement, Robinson denied he was a dissident republican. He said: “I am not, I never have been, nor will I be a member of a proscribed organisation. I deny I am an active member of the New IRA.”