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  1. ITV Report

Three cousins deny murder of man shot dead when at home with fiancé and son

Stephen Carson was fatally shot in the head at his home in February 2016.

The fiancé of a man who was shot dead in a house in the Ormeau area of Belfast broke down in tears as she recalled the moment a gunman burst into their home.

The 28-year old woman wept as she told Belfast Crown Court how she and Stephen Carson's 9-year-old son screamed in terror in the room next door.

She described how she tried in vain to stop the intruders entering their home in the Walmer Street during the fatal incident on 25th February 2016.

Charges

Three cousins from west Belfast, 35-year-old David James Francis Smith from Monagh Drive, 39-year-old Michael Lawrence Smith also from Monagh Drive and 42-year-old Francis Gerard Patrick Smith from Glenmurray Court have all been charged with murder.

All three deny that charge.

Michael Smyth has also been charged with, and denies, possessing a firearm with intent to commit murder, while Francis Smith also denies possessing both a firearm, and ammunition, in suspicious circumstances.

39-year-old Michael Lawrence Smith from Monagh Drive.
42-year-old Francis Gerard Patrick Smith from Glenmurray Court.

Recently engaged

Giving evidence via video link from a witness room at Laganside Court Complex on Thursday, the woman said her and Mr Carson had been together for around five years prior to his death.

She also revealed they became engaged on Valentine's Day 2016, just days before he was killed.

Armed intruders

In her evidence, the woman was asked what happened on that evening.

She told the court that 28-year-old Mr Carson was in the kitchen and that she and the boy were on the settee in the living room, when the front door was "booted open."

The woman said she jumped up and tried to protect the boy with one hand and hold the living room door closed with the other.

The woman said she was pushed to the sofa, and when the second man entered the room, he grabbed her wrist and covered her mouth.

Saying at one point she had something sprayed in her face, the woman said the intruders kept asking where he was, and Mr Carson's son indicated he was in the kitchen area.

She said that after pulling a gun from the inside of his pocket, the 'first male' pointed it at her and the child.

When asked what happened next, the Belfast woman broke down and said the first male "went straight down to the bathroom. Then I just heard a loud bang."

She added that after coming back into the living room, the gunman "put the gun back in his coat" and then he and the second man left.

The woman then found her partner lying on the bathroom floor

Motive

The woman was also asked about a fight between her partner, the Smiths and 26-year-old Kieran McManus who was shot dead in Kennedy way in March 2013.

Under cross examination, Stephen Carson's partner accepted she had said to police - these people can't get away with murder.

She was also challenged about her descriptions of the men.

She said: "Everything happened so fast that night."

The trial continues.

  • Judith Hill was at Belfast Crown Court: