Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Hat, gloves and matches 'link man to David Black killing'

David Black with daughter Kyla and Son Kyle at David's 52nd Birthday August 2012
David Black with daughter Kyla and Son Kyle at David's 52nd Birthday August 2012

Items of clothing and matches link a murder suspect to the killing of a prison officer as he drove to work, a court has heard.

Sean McVeigh is charged with murdering David Black, who was shot dead in a high-speed gun attack on the M1 motorway in November 2012.

McVeigh is also charged with possessing an AK-47 assault rifle with intent to endanger life.

There was applause in the packed courtroom as the 33-year-old, from Victoria Street in Lurgan, was led from the dock of Craigavon Magistrates Court after being remanded in custody yesterday.

Mr Black, a 52-year-old father of two from Cookstown, was shot dead as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison on November 1, 2012.

He was the 31st member of the prison service to be killed in Northern Ireland. It was the first such murder in almost 20 years.

McVeigh, who was dressed in a light grey hoodie and jeans, was flanked by prison officers during his brief appearance in the dock. Police stood guard outside the courtroom throughout the hearing.

McVeigh made no response, apart from nodding to indicate that he understood the charges.

Detective Inspector John Caldwell told the court he believed he could connect the accused to the charges.

Solicitor Peter Corrigan said his client would not be making a bail application at this stage because of issues over a surety payment.

However, Mr Corrigan urged the Public Prosecution Service to review the murder charge.

He said the case centred on three "primary issues" – a hat, gloves and matches possessed by the accused.

"The relevance in relation to the matches is that matches were found at Inglewood where the getaway car was burned," he said.

Mr Corrigan said McVeigh was still in possession of the matches after the shooting happened, while the hat and gloves were found among his work tools in his own vehicle.

The solicitor added: "That is the primary evidence linking my client.

"I would ask the prosecution service, in the light of what he has put forward comprehensively, that they review these charges in relation to the murder."

In response, DI Caldwell said the investigation "is still very much live" and there is still "a number of steps to be taken".

Earlier a crowd of about 40 people, mainly dressed in hoodies, jeans and tracksuit bottoms, had packed into court number three.

As McVeigh was being led from the dock one of them shouted "head up Sean", drawing applause from the crowd.

A court clerk called for silence, with District Judge Mervyn Bates adding: "It is not the occasion for that kind of behaviour in court."

McVeigh was remanded in custody to reappear via video-link at the same court on February 28.

BACKGROUND

David Black was shot dead on the M1 as he travelled from his Cookstown home to work at the high-security Maghaberry Prison. He was the 31st member of the prison service to be killed in Northern Ireland. The Toyota Camry used in his killing was later found burnt out in Lurgan. Two other men, one in Northern Ireland and one in the Republic, already face charges linked to the purchase and movement of the vehicle.

Further reading

Man in court over motorway murder

Ambush killers denounced at funeral of prison officer David Black 

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