‘Minute’ traces of the military explosive RDX were uncovered from the Citroen C3 car allegedly used by the bombers who planted a booby-trap device under the VW van of Prison Officer Adrian Ismay, the trial of a west Belfast man heard on Wednesday.
However, the non-jury trial of Christopher Alphonsos Robinson, who denies murder and supplying the C3 car belonging to his sister-inlaw, also heard that the “secondary or tertiary” traces were so minute they could have been three times removed from any RDX explosives.
A senior scientific forensics officer said that he recovered less than 40 nanograms of explosive traces from swabs taken from the rear floor of the red Citroen and from the rear seat and a rear child seat.
The forensic expert said that the findings “provides weak support” for the RDX explosive being in contact with the rear of the car.
He also explained the low level traces could have been transferred from a person, or clothing, or a bag, or container, that the explosive, which is not available commercially, had been in direct contact with.
However, under cross-examination from defence QC Arthur Harvey, the scientific officer also agreed the traces “are so minute it was unlikely there was direct contact with the RDX”, and that they could have come from “an individual having shaken hands with someone who had shaken hands with someone else who has been in contact with the explosives”.
The trial of 48-year-old Robinson, from Aspen Park, Poleglass, has already heard that his sister-in-law’s red C3 car was allegedly captured on CCTV near the Hillsborough Drive, east Belfast home of the prison warder. The prosecution claim that the Citroen car was used by the bombers.
The device exploded without warning under the VW van of the 52-year-old father-of-three as he was driving to work at Hydebank Prison. Although he initially he survived the blast, he died 11 days later on March 15, 2016, from a massive heart attack, which the prosecution say resulted from his injuries.