Gardaí arrest on-the-run suspect in prison officer’s murder

Damien Joseph McLaughlin was due to stand trial in North over the killing of David Black

Prison officers carry the coffin  of murdered prison officer David Black through Cookstown, Co Tyrone. File photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Prison officers carry the coffin of murdered prison officer David Black through Cookstown, Co Tyrone. File photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

 

A man who was on the run after having been charged in connection with the murder of a Northern Ireland prison officer has been arrested by gardaí.

Damien Joseph McLaughlin (40), of Ardboe, Co Tyrone, was arrested along with another man in Co Donegal on Thursday following a joint operation between the Garda and the PSNI.

Mr McLaughlin was to stand trial in the North last month on a variety of charges linked to the murder of prison officer David Black.

Mr Black (52) was shot dead by dissident republicans as he drove to work at Maghaberry high-security prison in November 2012.

Mr McLaughlin was charged with aiding and abetting the murder, possessing items to be used in terrorism and belonging to an illegal organisation.

He had been on bail since May 2014, but had not been seen for months at an address in Belfast were he had agreed to reside as part of his bail conditions.

A court hearing in January was told he had not been seen since last November.

Joint operation

The Garda and PSNI have been in close contact in relation to Mr McLaughlin’s movements over fears that he had left the North and was living in the Republic.

The Garda said Mr McLaughlin was arrested under a European Arrest Warrant.

He has been taken to a Dublin Garda station and is scheduled to appear before the High Court on Friday.

The man who was arrested with him, a 59-year-old, is being held at Letterkenny Garda station under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act

The PSNI have also arrested a 47-year-old woman in Belfast as part of the operation.

Det Chief Supt Raymond Murray, of the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch, said Mr McLaughlin’s arrest had come about as a result of close co-operation with the Garda.

“Since his disappearance, police have carried out extensive enquiries regarding Mr McLaughlin’s whereabouts,” he said.

“Throughout this time, the PSNI has been liaising closely with An Garda Síochána and today’s arrests demonstrate the benefits of joint working between police forces and other national partner agencies.”