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  1. ITV Report

Accused ‘searched name of murder victim online’

Belfast Crown Court has heard that a man accused of murdering prison officer Adrian Ismay searched his victim's name online several times in the weeks running up to the bomb attack.

A prosecution lawyer also told the court that on the day of the explosion, Christopher Robinson searched online for news of the attack.

The 48-year-old from Aspen Park in the Poleglass area of west Belfast denies murdering Mr Ismay in March 2016.

The court was told the online searches, were carried out on a mobile phone that was seized by police from the defendant's home.

Adrian Ismay died 11 days after a device exploded under his blue Volkswagen van as he drove from his home in the Cregagh area of Belfast in March 2016.

Christopher Robinson - who volunteered for St John's Ambulance the same time as Mr Ismay - has been charged with his murder, possessing an improvised explosive device and providing money or property for the purposes of terrorism.

He has denied all the charges against him and is currently standing trial at Belfast Crown Court.

During Monday's hearing, an expert analyst who was provided with a mobile seized from Robinson's Aspen Park home in Twinbrook was called to give evidence.

The analyst confirmed there had been internet searches regarding Mr Ismay made on the phone from 27bSeptember, 2015 up to the bomb attack on 4 March, 2016.

Mr Ismay was a member of the community rescue service, and six months before the bomb attack the phone taken from Robinson's address was used to search the organisation online.

In January 2016 searches were again conducted on the community rescue service, and Mr Ismay's profile on their website was accessed, as well as the organisation's Belfast address.

The analyst was also asked about internet searches and activity the day of the explosion.

The device exploded at the end of Hillsborough Drive at 7am on the morning of Friday 4 March - and the phone which was examined showed internet searches about the explosion began at 9.18am.

The analyst confirmed she was also asked to examine photographs on the phone, which were shown in court and which depicted Mr Ismay's van in situ at the scene of the blast, and another image of Scene of Crime officers in the area

Under cross-examination from defence barrister Arthur Harvey QC, the analyst confirmed that during her examination of the phone, she noted scores of "benign searches" such as Santander.

She was also asked about searches conducted between 3 and 6 March, 2016 - a period when Mr Harvey said the bomb attack was a "dominant feature of local news".

The analyst agreed with the defence that there was "extensive press covering" of the incident at the time, and also agreed that anyone accessing news over that period would have seen this coverage.