Stephen Carson's Killers Handed 20 Year Sentences

Two cousins from west Belfast who murdered Stephen Carson in 2016 have been told they will spend the next 20 years in jail before they will be considered eligible for release.

Mr Carson died after he was shot in the head in the bathroom of his home in Walmer Street in south Belfast on the evening of 25 February 2016.

His fiancé and nine-year-old son were in the house at the time of the execution.

40-year-old Michael Smith and 35-year-old David Smith, both with addresses in Monagh Drive, shook hands in the dock at Belfast Crown Court after Judge Geoffrey Miller handed each of them the minimum 20-year sentence.

During the sentencing it emerged that Mr Carson's son, who is now 11, has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following the ordeal, in which he was also threatened at gunpoint and was pepper-stayed.

Judge Miller described the murder as "an execution with chilling and clinical efficiency," and said: "I am in no doubt that it has characteristics akin to a gangland execution.

"This was a cold-blooded, pre-planned murder, set in the context of a long-running vendetta against the deceased and his family."

Francis Smith, 42, also from west Belfast was found guilty of possessing a shotgun and ammunition in suspicious circumstances and assisting the gunmen by allowing them to store the murder weapon on his property.

He was sentenced to seven years and six months, serving half in custody and half on licence.
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Detective Chief Inspector Pete McKenna said: "This was a callous, brutal murder and I welcome today's sentencing. Stephen Carson was at home enjoying a meal with his fiancée and nine-year-old son when three men burst in carrying a hammer and a shotgun. These thugs confronted the young child and Stephen's fiancée who they sprayed with a pepper type spray.

"Stephen was in kitchen and ran to the bathroom to phone the police. At this point one of these males, who I believe to be Michael Smith, fired a fatal shot through the door, hitting Stephen in the head.

"This was a premeditated murder with the perpetrators leaving no forensic evidence yet these men were still put before the courts as a result of the complex, multi-faceted police investigation carried out by detectives.  I would also like to pay tribute to Stephen's family for their dignity, courage and unwavering commitment to seeing justice done for their loved one.

"Everyone deserves to feel safe in their home and Stephen's murder was brutal and cold-blooded carried out by extremely dangerous men who appear to show no remorse for their actions. Stephen's son and fiancée have been left extremely traumatised by the incident and their lives will never be the same again. Whilst no sentence can ever take away the pain for Stephen's family, I hope they get some comfort from knowing that his killers are behind bars. The community is now a safer place with these men removed from our streets."


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