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Belfast man arrested for alleged driving offences was at same airstrip as Michael and David Smith who ‘executed’ his brother Stephen Carson

“You see these things on the news, but you never think they’ll reach you”

Cousins ​​Michael and David Smith were sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2018 for the murder of Stephen Carson in Belfast.

Mr Carson, 28, died in February 2016 after being shot in the head through the bathroom door at his home in Walmer Street.

His fiancée and young son were also in the house at the time of the murder.

During the murder trial, it was heard that Mr Carson was shot because of a “long-standing vendetta” against him and his family.

Stephen Carson with his fiancée Naomi Smyth

This week it emerged that Mr Carson’s younger brother Jordan, arrested last month in connection with a series of alleged driving offences, is being held in the same prison as Michael and David Smith at Maghaberry Prison in County Antrim.

During his bail application at Laganside Crown Court this week, Jordan Carson’s lawyer said the 23-year-old was “distressed” at being so close to his brother’s killers and was “not leaving his cell”.

The bail application was rejected but the judge said he hoped Maghaberry Prison authorities would take “appropriate action” by keeping the accused on the same floor as the Smiths, who are both in their 40s.

On the night he was murdered, Stephen Carson was making tea in the kitchen of his home while his partner Naomi Smyth and their nine-year-old son were sitting on the sofa in the living room when the men entered the south Belfast home at around 10.30pm.

Murder scene

The trial heard that Ms Smyth got up from the sofa and held the door to the living room in an attempt to stop them but the first intruder, who the prosecution said was Michael Smith, overpowered her and entered.

Ms Smyth said it appears one of the men took something out of his coat pocket and sprayed it in her face, causing her eyes to sting.

She was pushed onto a sofa, and every time she tried to get up, the man asked her, “Where is he?” One of the other intruders told the first man that Mr. Carson was on the phone to police in the bathroom of the house.

One of the men then walked through the kitchen to the downstairs bathroom.

Ms. Smyth heard a loud bang, and the intruders left. She then went to the bathroom and saw Mr. Carson lying on the floor.

Despite the efforts of emergency services, Mr Carson was pronounced dead at 11.30pm.

Maghaberry Maximum Security Prison

An autopsy revealed the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the left side of the head.

The hearing heard that Mr Carson’s son had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the horrific events he witnessed.

Prosecutors said that at the time of his death, Mr Carson believed he was in danger from Michael and David Smith, which prompted him to move from west Belfast to the Ormeau area.

Mr Carson was suspected of taking part in an attack on Michael Smith in 2010 that left him seriously injured, which prosecutors said was the motive for the 2016 murder.

The court heard that Michael Smith had 168 convictions while David Smith had 28.

Another cousin, Francis Smith, was imprisoned for his role after committing a murder that included allowing the murder weapon to be kept in his apartment.

Jordan Carson

Francis Smith, also in his 40s, of Glenmurray Court, west Belfast, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison, half of which he was to spend in prison and the other half on parole.

Sentencing the three men, the judge said: “This was a cold-blooded murder, planned in advance and set in the context of a long-standing vendetta against the deceased and his family.

“I have no doubt that this has the hallmarks of a gangland execution.”

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Carson’s fiancée said she would never forget the horrific events of that night.

“I will never forget what they did. You see things like this on the news, but you never think it will arrive on your doorstep,” she said.

“He knew what was going to happen. He even planned his own funeral.

“While I am pleased with the sentence they received today, it will never be enough. It will not bring Stephen back.”

In relation to the charges against Jordan Carson, the court heard this week that police were contacted on June 14 by a man who said his motorbike had been stolen in Belfast.

The man was at work in the city centre and left his motorcycle in a secure parking lot on a nearby street.

However, while at work, he received a notification from the app informing him that his motorcycle was on the move.

Police reviewed surveillance footage from the parking lot and it shows a man approaching the motorcycle and kicking the handlebars to break the steering lock.

He is then seen tinkering with the bike’s wiring before finally managing to get the ignition going and ride away.

A police helicopter was dispatched to the scene and located the vehicle using information provided by the app.

A motorcycle and its passenger were spotted travelling on the wrong side of the Monagh Road in west Belfast.

The photo shows a motorcycle driving against traffic on a roundabout, avoiding collisions with other vehicles.

Stephen Carson

The motorcycle continued its journey through west Belfast until the driver eventually abandoned the bike and boarded a nearby Glider bus.

Police arrived at the scene and Carson was arrested on the Glider. He was charged with a number of offences, including taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, criminal damage and dangerous driving.

Carson is also charged with driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and failing to provide a blood sample to police.

A police officer told the court that Carson “was drifting in and out of consciousness” while being questioned by police.

The officer said he opposed releasing Carson on bail because he feared he would reoffend.

The officer said Carson had 85 previous convictions, including 22 driving offences and eight thefts. The court heard he had breached bail 20 times before.

The last verdict was passed in November 2023 and he was sentenced to four months in prison.

Carson’s attorney described him as a “troubled young man” but added that he was seeking help for mental health issues.

The solicitor said Carson was “distressed” about being in the same prison tier as those responsible for his brother’s murder and was seeking bail “with any conditions”.

However, the bail application was denied, with the judge citing Carson’s “horrific past” as the main reason.

Amid concerns that Carson was on the same floor as his brother’s killers, the judge said he hoped prison authorities would take “appropriate action.”