Man accused over prison officer murder named in Garda interviews

Damien McLaughlin has been charged with aiding and abetting the murder of David Black
Damien McLaughlin has been charged with aiding and abetting the murder of David Black

A pre-trial hearing in the case of a Co Tyrone man accused of involvement in the murder of prison officer David Black, heard him being named during recorded Garda interviews of another suspect.

The recordings, being played to Belfast Crown Court, of two Garda officers interviewing suspect Stephen Brady may form evidence in the trial of 41-year-old Damien McLaughlin from Kilmascally Road in Dungannon.

He denies charges including aiding and abetting the November 2012 murder of 52-year-old father of two Mr Black, possessing the Toyota Camry used by the gunmen, and belonging to the IRA.

Mr Justice Colton is being asked to consider whether any of the 12 Co Leitrim video recordings of the Garda interviews with Mr Brady can form part of the Crown case against McLaughlin.

Several interviews have already been played to Mr Justice Colton. In one Mr Brady was asked if he “helped start the car that was used to murder David Black”, to which he said: “I didn’t know it was going to be used for anything.”

Then when asked “do you wish to condemn the murder of David Black?”, Mr Brady answered “no comment.” He was then asked “do you feel a bit sorry for his wife”, to which he replied he felt sorry for anyone who lost a family member: “It’s tragic, but it happens.”

Yesterday in the seventh interview played to the court, the Leitrim man was shown CCTV footage of the garage where he’d worked and of him talking to a man a number of times, who also allegedly used his mobile phone.

Mr Brady was then pressed, in no uncertain terms, by the officers that the man he was seen chatting to was Mr McLaughlin.

While he initially agreed with the officers “the fellow was in the Real IRA”, believed him to be a member, that he “knew him by name”, although not personally, he refused to name the man. At one stage Mr Brady claimed that because of the Garda he was either “going to jail, or I’m getting f***ing killed”.

“That’s f***ing Damien McLaughlin, is that f***ing correct,” asked one detective, and when Mr Brady refused to say, the officer came back at him: “It’s either a yes or f***ing no, answer ... that’s Damien McLaughlin from Tyrone.”

Mr Brady repeatedly told his inquisitors: “I told you I’m not saying ... you’re saying it’s him.”

In response the detectives, repeatedly swearing, told him he would be asked the question, “or until you tell me the f***ing truth”, before they put it to him again: “I’m telling f***ing you that’s Damien McLaughlin from Tyrone ... I know that Damien McLaughlin from Tyrone.”

As the suspect repeated he was “not saying” the detective repeated, “You’re not f***ing telling me who it is ... I’m f***ing telling you who it is ...”

Again the officers pressed Mr Brady who offered at one point, “I’m trying to think what to do”, to which they insisted “we’re telling you it’s f***ing Damien McLaughlin from Tyrone ... it’s a f***ing simple question ... you fixed the car with him ... but I’m telling you that’s Damien McLaughlin ... I’m not asking you to say, I’m telling you that’s f***ing Damien McLaughlin from Tyrone ... that’s correct ... isn’t it”.

Eventually after it was put to him time and again that the man he was seen on the CCTV footage with was Damien McLaughlin, Mr Brady replied: “Yeah.”

He also later agreed with the officers that he knew “Damien McLaughlin to be an IRA member from Tyrone”.