Ardboe man appears in connection with Black murder

AN ARDBOE man has appeared in Lisburn Magistrates’ Court on charges connected with the murder of Cookstown prison officer David Black.

Damien Joseph McLaughlin, 36, of Kilmascally Road, Ardboe, Dungannon was linked to the Toyota Camry, which was moved from the Irish Republic to Northern Ireland before it was used in the murder of David Black, 52.

Father-of-two Mr Black, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, was shot on a motorway in Co Armagh after a Toyota pulled alongside him at high speed while he drove to work at the high security Maghaberry Prison.

The defendant was accused of obtaining the attack car at Carrigallen, Co Leitrim, and bringing it to Northern Ireland.

An investigating officer told Lisburn Magistrates’ Court: “We believe we will be able to prove that the car was moved from there shortly after Mr McLaughlin was in Carrigallen and it was taken straight to Northern Ireland towards the Craigavon area.”

Mr Black was shot dead close to Craigavon on the M1 motorway on November 1.

He was the first prison officer killed in Northern Ireland for 20 years.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland officer on Thursday said evidence to support a terrorism charge was with Irish police and would be sent to Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

He said the Toyota was identified burned out after the killing in Craigavon.

“Gardai were able to trace the registration, they have conducted very extensive inquiries and been able to inform us where it moved and approximately what times it moved,” he said.

“The car was moved out of Carrigallen late on the 31st of October and on that date we believe we have CCTV provided by the Garda that places Mr McLaughlin in Carrigallen.

“Mr McLaughlin has never given an explanation.”

He said it was not believed the suspect, frequented that area but added he was not at liberty to go into detail on the evidence.

He said investigations were at an early stage and police needed to encourage more witnesses to come forward north and south of the Irish border.

“If too much is said along that line it will be a serious deterrent to other people in assisting police,” he added.

“The evidence has been fully discussed with the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) and the PPS were satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to substantiate a charge.

“The Garda Siochana believe that they have evidence sufficient and that will come to us in due course.”

The accused, dressed in a white top and jeans and flanked by prison officers, stood throughout the brief hearing, as half a dozen police officers kept watch in the crowded courtroom.