The family of a Belfast man who was found dead in suspicious circumstances in New York four years ago are calling on police in the city to reopen his case. Thirty-five year-old Vincent Robinson’s body was discovered by his girlfriend in his Woodside apartment in Queens during the late evening/early morning of July 4/5, 2008. Vincent’s body was discovered on the hallway floor. The autopsy report said he died by hanging and his death was recorded as suicide.
However, his family back home in Belfast are not convinced and believe he was murdered. Crime scene photographs and the autopsy report show abrasions to the upper body of the Markets man as well as a wound to the back of the head.
Vincent Robinson left Belfast for New York in April 2007 to make a better life for himself. The previous month his friend Joe Jones was killed by the Continuity IRA after being viciously beaten and then murdered with a spade in Ardoyne. Eddie Burns was shot dead by the CIRA in the west of the city on the same night. The family don’t believe his death has any connection to the double murder. Furthermore, the Jones and Burns families have gone on record to state that Vincent had nothing to do with the murders and that they know who carried out the sickening Belfast killings.
At the time of his death Vincent was working illegally in New York as a labourer on building sites. According to those who knew him, he was a popular member of the Irish community in Queens.
The Belfast Media Group can now reveal that pressure is mounting on police in New York to reopen the case after an independent report into Vincent Robinson’s death blew the case wide open.
According to Derek Carson, the former Deputy State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, there are several discrepancies about how the body was found that suggest that the death was not suicide. He also has other concerns which raise further doubts about the original police investigation.
In his report for the family he writes: “There were also unexplained injuries of two types on the body. Firstly, on the back of the head there was quite a substantial blunt impact injury, measured by the pathologist at 1 ¾ inches, and with associated bruising indicating that the injury was caused prior to death.
“This injury has not been explained and the position of the body and the apparent absence of any bloody stain on the side of the stair does not suggest that it could have occurred during a hanging process. Secondly, there were a number of linear abrasions/shallow lacerations visible on the front of the neck and extending quite sharply downwards and from left to right. Further linear abrasions can be seen in the photographs on the abdomen/lower chest and on the front of the left forearm.
“Self-inflicted wounds with suicidal intent normally run horizontally across the front and sides of the neck, and across the front of the wrist(s), and not in the angles seen in these photographs. These injuries have not been explained in the autopsy reports.”
Mr Carson concluded his report by saying that the latter wounds were “apparently made by a knife”.
Vincent’s aunt Magdalene Robinson said the Carson report backs up the family’s belief that her nephew was murdered.
“There are so many contradictions surrounding the night he died which adds to the confusion and our suspicions,” she said.
“Hours before he was found he’d been on the phone to his former partner in Belfast making plans for his children to come over to New York to visit him – he was so looking forward to that.
“Then some people said he was drunk while others said he was completely sober.
“But not only are there now inconsistencies with people’s stories, there are now inconsistencies around his injuries.
“What we want now is for the police in New York to re-examine the case and to follow the forensics. If that means interviewing witnesses again, then so be it.
“Vincent went to New York to better his life and died in circumstances that are far from clear. The family need answers and we won’t be satisfied until we get them.
“If anyone can cast any light into what happened to Vincent that night please contact us and tell us what you know.”
The family are calling for anyone with information to contact the victims’ group Relatives for Justice, who are assisting them in their case, on 028 90 627171. You can also email Magdalene directly at firstname.lastname@example.org