Belfast Telegraph

Man linked to David Black murder faces extradition hearing

By John Cassidy

A suspected dissident republican will hear next month whether he is to be extradited to Northern Ireland for questioning over the murder of prison officer David Black.

Damien McLaughlin (41), of Kilmascally Road, Ardboe, Co Tyrone, absconded from his bail address in west Belfast last November and went on the run.

He was due to stand trial in February this year charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Mr Black in November 2012. He is further accused of belonging to a proscribed organisation.

During a review of the case yesterday at Belfast Crown Court, a prosecution lawyer told Mr Justice Colton: "The accused is facing extradition from Dublin to Northern Ireland. The matter was heard by Judge (Aileen) Donnelly. We understand the proceedings took place in Dublin on July 26, 2017 and she will deliver her ruling on October 20 this year.''

Mr Justice Colton agreed to adjourn the case, which will be reviewed on October 27, following the Dublin extradition ruling.

McLaughlin's disappearance only came to light in January this year at the same court when a prosecution lawyer asked for his bail to be revoked after he could not be found at his bail address.

The lawyer said McLaughlin failed to sign with police in November.

He added that on December 23 last, police called to the address, which he said "appears to have effectively been cleared out".

The court heard that when officers checked his other address in Ardboe, and those of family members, this was "of no assistance".

The prosecutor said that the people who provided sureties, namely McLaughlin's uncles, were also "not able to assist in locating him".

McLaughlin's disappearance provoked an outcry, while Mr Black's family said they "felt let down by the justice system''.

Detective Chief Supt Raymond Murray said he had visited the Black family "to offer sincere apologies" on behalf of the PSNI and provide "reassurance of the steps police were taking to locate McLaughlin".

The failure by the PSNI to carry out regular bail checks on McLaughlin is currently the subject of a Police Ombudsman investigation.

Following a massive cross-border manhunt, McLaughlin was eventually arrested by the Garda on March 2 this year on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by the PSNI while walking along a street in Ramelton, Co Donegal.

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