Man in court over Black inquiry
A man has appeared in Lisburn Magistrates' Court accused of obtaining a car which was later used in the killing of prison officer David Black in Northern Ireland.
Damien Joseph McLaughlin (36), was linked to a Toyota Camry which was moved from the Republic to Northern Ireland before it was used in the murder last month of Mr Black (52). The suspect was detained in Co Tyrone yesterday.
Father-of-two Mr Black, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, was shot on a motorway in Co Armagh after a Toyota pulled alongside him at high speed while he drove to work at the high-security Maghaberry Prison.
The defendant was accused of obtaining the car at Carrigallen, Co Leitrim, and bringing it to Northern Ireland.
A PSNI officer told the court: “We believe we will be able to prove that the car was moved from there shortly after Mr McLaughlin was in Carrigallen and it was taken straight to Northern Ireland towards the Craigavon area.”
Mr Black was shot dead close to Craigavon on the M1 motorway on November 1st. Dissident republicans claimed responsibility.
The officer said evidence to support a terrorism charge was with gardaí in the Republic and would be forwarded to Northern Ireland as soon as possible.
The accused, dressed in a white top and jeans and flanked by prison officers, stood throughout the brief hearing, as half a dozen police officers kept watch in the crowded courtroom.
Mr Black’s young son Kyle, who spoke movingly at his father’s funeral last month, looked on, while a crowd of supporters in the public gallery applauded the accused as he was led away.
Mr McLaughlin’s lawyer Peter Corrigan said the evidence should have been before the court before the suspect was charged.
“There is no evidence in existence against the defendant linking him to the car, no relevant and visible evidence,” he said. “There is an expectation at some future date that there might be evidence.”
District Judge Rosemary Watters said she was prepared to accept the Garda will bring the evidence forward in due course and it will be before a court in Northern Ireland.
“I have to rely on what I am told and rely on a belief that that evidence when it is before a court will convict - or at least there is a prima facie case against the defendant.”
She remanded him in custody to reappear via video-link at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on January 4th.
Mr Black, a father of two, worked at the high-security Maghaberry jail in Co Antrim where dissident republicans had been on a no-wash protest over strip searches.
He was the first prison officer murdered in Northern Ireland for 20 years. A dissident paramilitary group calling itself the "IRA" claimed responsibility for Mr Black’s murder.
In Dublin, a 44-year-old man appeared before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin this afternoon charged in connection with the murder.
Vincent Banks, of Smithfield Gate Apartments, Smithfield, Dublin 7, is charged with membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on December 18th, 2012. He is also charged with withholding information in relation to the murder of Mr Black. He was remanded in custody until tomorrow.