Belfast Telegraph

Family's frustration as David Black's killers still at large one year on

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

The family of murdered prison officer David Black have told of their desperation to see his killers brought to justice.

The 52-year-old father-of-two was gunned down as he drove along the M1 to work at Maghaberry Prison on November 1 last year.

A new dissident republican paramilitary group calling itself the IRA admitted the killing.

Mr Black's widow Yvonne and their children Kyle and Kyra will join Prison Service staff for a memorial service at Maghaberry today.

Two men, one in Northern Ireland and one in the Republic, currently face charges linked to the purchase and movement of the Toyota Camry used in the ambush.

Last night police launched a fresh appeal for information from the public.

The Black family's minister, Rev Tom Greer, said their sense of loss remained very raw 12 months on from the murder.

And he said they were desperate to see his killers brought to justice.

"All of us are frustrated that there has not yet been a conviction," said Rev Greer.

"The police are doing their best.

"I suppose there's that sense of despair; will anyone ever be convicted for it? That remains to be seen. On one hand they want to see a conviction and on the other hand the prospect of facing trials is very daunting.

"The pain is very great still."

Mr Black, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, had been planning his retirement.

Rev Greer said Mr Black had been extremely well-respected throughout his local community which, he said, was still reeling from the killing.

"That sense of initial shock has turned into reality and that has become maybe an even more painful experience than it was at first," he said.

Mr Black was the first prison officer to be murdered in Northern Ireland for 20 years.

Finlay Spratt, head of the Prison Officers' Association, said Mr Black's murder had a profound effect on his colleagues.

"It had a devastating effect on prison staff and it is very fresh in their minds one year on," he said.

"Certainly, the death of David Black brought it home to us all how vulnerable we are.

"We thought we were heading for peace, but it's still there. We continue to live with that threat."

Mr Black died at the scene after his car was riddled with automatic fire near Lurgan.

A blue Toyota Camry with a Dublin registration was used in the attack. It was later found burnt out in the Inglewood area of Lurgan.

STORY SO FAR

David Black (right) was the first prison officer to be murdered in Northern Ireland in 20 years. A new dissident republican paramilitary group calling itself the IRA admitted the killing. The 52-year-old father-of-two was shot from a passing car at around 7.30am as he drove to work on the M1 in Co Armagh on November 1. He had been driving to Maghaberry jail.

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