Victoria Square exploding rucksack charges dropped

The bag had been left at the House of Fraser entrance at Chichester Street
The bag had been left at the House of Fraser entrance at Chichester Street

Charges against a man accused of causing an explosion outside a Belfast city centre shopping complex are to be withdrawn.

Malcolm Stevenson had faced prosecution for allegedly igniting an aerosol inside a rucksack at Victoria Square last summer.

But it was confirmed on Wednesday at Belfast Magistrates’ Court that the charges of criminal damage endangering life and resisting police are to be dropped.

Stevenson, 47, and from Templemore Street in the city, had denied any involvement in the incident.

A previous court was told he claimed to have been at his tent in north Belfast at the time of the small blast.

The bag containing two aerosols was said to have been placed against the doors of House of Fraser on the junction of Chichester Street and Victoria Street just after midnight on August 5.

After it was set alight one of the canisters exploded, sending fire and shrapnel shooting towards the road.

No-one was injured and no damage was caused to property.

Prosecutors previously claimed CCTV footage showed a man monitoring the area around Victoria Square for more than an hour before the explosion.

He was depicted igniting the bag at the entrance to House of Fraser before exiting up Chichester Street, the court heard at the time.

Two police officers were said to have identified Stevenson as being the suspect.

He had been out on bail but banned from entering the centre of Belfast while criminal proceedings continued.

However, in court on Wednesday the prosecution announced that both charges are to be withdrawn.