David Black murder charge man Damien McLaughlin fails to overturn court order for him to stand trial
The only man charged in connection with the murder of prison officer David Black has failed in a High Court bid to overturn an order for him to stand trial.
Lawyers for Damien McLaughlin claimed the decision should be quashed because he was unfairly denied the chance to cross-examine a key prosecution witness.
They also contended that a district judge who committed him for trial applied the wrong legal test.
But Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan ruled today that there was nothing irrational or perverse about the process.
McLaughlin, 39, from the Kilmascally Road in Dungannon, is facing four charges in relation to the prison officer's killing.
They include aiding and abetting his murder, having a Toyota Camry car for use in terrorism, preparing a terrorist act by starting and moving the vehicle which the killers used, and belonging to a proscribed organisation, namely the IRA.
Mr Black was shot dead on the M1 in County Armagh in November 2012 en route to work at high security Maghaberry Prison.
The 52-year-old father of two was the first Northern Ireland prison officer to be murdered in nearly 20 years.
The prosecution alleges McLaughlin transported the Toyota car across the Irish border on the eve of the attack.
In June last year a preliminary investigation resulted in the district judge ordering him to be returned for trial.
McLaughlin's legal team launched judicial review proceedings against decisions to admit hearsay evidence and to return him for trial.
Their challenge centred on statements from a man who was arrested and interviewed by the Garda as a suspect in the murder plot.
He was not called as a witness during the preliminary investigation.
Senior counsel for McLaughlin told Sir Declan and Mr Justice Maguire there is a statutory right to cross-examine witnesses before trial.
A prosecution barrister countered that the proceedings were a form of satellite litigation.
He also stressed that the district judge was not deciding on the issue of guilt or innocence.
The accused, who is currently on bail, was present in court as his legal challenge was thrown out.
Dismissing the application, Sir Declan said: "There were material circumstances in this case including the availability of audiovisual material, the CCTV evidence, the fact that the witness was outside the jurisdiction and that his reluctance may be related to his being interviewed as a suspect which lead us to reject the submission that the admission of the evidence was irrational or perverse."