Sean McVeigh can be freed on bail - judge

Sean McVeigh
Sean McVeigh

A Lurgan man accused of murdering prison officer David Black can be released on bail, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice O’Hara granted Sean McVeigh’s application after describing the evidence against him as “far from overwhelming”.

Mr McVeigh, of Victoria Street, Lurgan, is charged with the murder on the M1 motorway in November 2012.

The 33-year-old faces a further count of possessing an AK47 assault rifle with intent to endanger life.

Mr Black, 52, a father of two from Cookstown in County Tyrone was shot dead on his way to work at Maghaberry Prison.

Prosecutors claimed Mr McVeigh was seen on CCTV footage leaving his home on the morning of the killing and heading in the direction of a car used by the killers.

He is also alleged to have purchased two hats, two pairs of gloves, a box of matches and a bottle of domestic cleaner the day before.

At one stage he was allegedly seen carrying a five litre petrol container.

With the Toyota Camry used in the attack later found burnt out in Lurgan, a prosecution barrister claimed the activities were linked to efforts to forensically clean the vehicle.

Opposing bail, he cited Mr McVeigh’s alleged associations with prominent republican Colin Duffy and also claimed there was a risk of further offending.

The court heard the accused has affiliated himself with Real IRA figures since being held in the separated prison regime.

But a defence lawyer said there is no forensic evidence to link his client with the murder.

“The prosecution case is circumstantial in the extreme and built largely around supposition,” he said.

Disputing the contention that Mr McVeigh may re-offend if bailed, the lawyer said he was first arrested and released days after the killing.

“He has remained in Lurgan and lived lawfully for 15 months,” the barrister added.

Granting bail, the judge said: “I acknowledge the prosecution objection, but the evidence of the involvement of Mr McVeigh in the murder of Mr Black is far from overwhelming.”

Mr Justice O’Hara said he could not refuse applications simply because of alleged dissident republican involvement.

“I have to take account of more than that,” he added.

Mr McVeigh was ordered to abide by a curfew and 
electronic monitoring conditions.

He must also report to police three times a week and is prohibited from any contact with two other men 
linked to the murder investigation.