Black murder accused has charges withdrawn

Sean McVeigh
Sean McVeigh

A Lurgan man charged in relation to the murder of prison officer David Black has had the charges withdrawn at court today.

Sean McVeigh was arrested in February in connection with the 2012 murder of Mr Black who was shot and killed as he drove to work along the M1 close to the Lurgan slip road.

Mr McVeigh, of Victoria Street, Lurgan had been charged with his murder. That charge and another of possessing an assault rifle with the intent to endanger life were dropped on Tuesday.

A lawyer from the Public Prosecution Service told Craigavon Magistrates’ Court: “The charges in this matter are to be withdrawn.

“No prosecution has been directed.”

District judge Mervyn Bates told Mr McVeigh that he was free to go.

“As far as this matter is concerned you may be released from custody,” he said. “This case is now at an end.”

Mr McVeigh is to sue the PPS and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for the time he has spent in custody.

When he was first arrested and charged in February, Mr McVeigh’s lawyers had requested that the PPS review the case as they said there was no evidence against their client.

Mr McVeigh’s solicitor was told on Monday that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) would be withdrawing the case from Craigavon Magistrates Court today (Tuesday).

Solicitor Peter Corrigan said his client would take legal action against the PSNI and the PPS.

Mr Black (52) was the first prison officer murdered in almost 20 years. The father of two from Cookstown was killed as he journeyed to work at Maghaberry Prison on November 1, 2012.

Mr McVeigh, of Victoria St in Lurgan was released on bail in April after a High Court judge said evidence of his involvement ‘in the murder of Mr Black is far from overwhelming’.

Bail conditions included a curfew and electronic monitoring.

Mr McVeigh was also ordered to report to police three times a week and was prohibited from any contact with two other men linked to the murder investigation.

Mr Corrigan said police had alleged ‘they discovered a hat, gloves and matches during a search of Mr McVeigh’s Victoria St home and a car a day after the attack’.

“We have always pointed to the fact that Mr McVeigh still possessed the matches which were bought in a shop near his home after the shooting happened and that the hat and gloves were found among his work tools in his own vehicle,” he said.

“Further there remains no evidence to indicate that gloves or hats were used in the murder.

“From as early as the day our client was charged he put forward an alibi and from as early as the first day at court we have asked that the Public Prosecution Service review the charges against our client.

“There has been considerable adverse publicity for him and his family relating to this murder. It has now been proven that our client is totally innocent of the charges brought.

“My client will now be instigating civil proceedings against the PSNI and the PPS for the time he has spent in custody as a result of same.”