Black murder trial to go ahead

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  • Judge said there was sufficient evidence to put Damien McLaughlin on trial
  • McLaughlin (38) faces four charges in relation to the murder of David Black
  • Prison officer Mr Black was shot dead near Lurgan in 2012

The only man charged in connection with the murder of prison officer David Black was today ordered to stand trial accused of aiding and abetting in the murder.

Committing alleged IRA terrorist 38-year-old Damien McLaughlin to Belfast Crown Court for trial, District Judge Peter King told Craigavon Magistrates Court he was satisfied there was sufficient evidence to warrant putting him on trial.

His decision comes after a Preliminary Investigation where the PPS called witnesses to give evidence to persuade the judge there was a Prima Facie case against McLaughlin.

McLaughlin, from the Kilmascally Road in Dungannon, is facing four charges in relation to the murder of prison officer David Black including aiding and abetting his murder, possessing an article, namely a Toyota Camry car for use in terrorism, preparing a terrorist act by starting and moving the Toyota car which the killers used in the murder and a final charge of belonging or professing to belong to a proscribed organisation, the IRA, with all the offences dated on 31 October and 1 November 2012.

Mr Black was shot dead on the M1 near Lurgan in November 2012 while on his way to work at High security Maghaberry Prison.

The 52-year-old father of two was the first prison officer in Northern Ireland to be murdered in almost 20 years.

The prosecution alleges Mr McLaughlin transported a Toyota Camry across the Irish border on the eve of the attack.

The vehicle in which the killers were travelling was later found burnt out.

Standing in the dock of the Magistrates Court today McLaughlin confirmed that he had received copies of the statements and legal documents relating to the PI and that he had no legal objection to it taking place.

Last year at the same court, the PPS dropped a murder charge against 34-year-old Sean McVeigh, from Victoria street in Lurgan while a third defendant, Fiona McFadden (30), from Killough Gardens, also in Lurgan, has denied a count of perverting the course of justice by providing a false alibi to the alleged killers the day after the murder.

Today McLaughlin was released on continuing bail and ordered to appear before the higher Crown court for arraignment on a date to be fixed.

The case may stall however as his legal representative from KRW Law withdrew from it over the ongoing dispute over legal aid fees.