Belfast Telegraph

Prison officer gunmen 'cowards'

The family of murdered prison officer David Black have denounced his killers as cowards at his funeral.

The victim, 52, was killed by suspected dissident republicans in a high-speed shooting on a motorway as he drove to work at Maghaberry prison, Co Antrim on Thursday. He is the first prison warder killed by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland in 20 years.

Mr Black's daughter Kyra, 17, paid tribute to her "special hero" but the married father-of-two's extended family said they hoped the perpetrators would "get what they deserve".

The head of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Dr Roy Patton vowed the efforts of the gunmen to drag Northern Ireland backwards would not work.

Smartly-uniformed prison officers carried the coffin to Molesworth Presbyterian Church in Mid Ulster in military fashion behind a Scottish bagpiper who played a lament.

Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson, Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable Matt Baggott and justice ministers north and south of the Irish border attended the funeral in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

Mr Black's cousin Jim Slaine told mourners: "The people who did this to David are cowards to the extreme. They have probably never done a decent day's living, unlike the man they killed."

He added: "We all hope that the perpetrators get what they deserve in life but we all know they will have to live with what they have done and they will meet their maker."

Gunmen travelling in a stolen car fired on the victim's Audi car near a junction leading to Portadown, Co Armagh, as he was on his way to Maghaberry. The car careered off the road and into a ditch. Mr Black, who had more than 30 years' service, was the first prison officer to die at the hands of paramilitaries since 1993.

Dr Patton said the killing was an attack on the whole community. He said: "We are together in this, totally united as churches, politicians, civic society, ordinary men and women who feel for you today in your unspeakable loss, and who in the strongest possible terms are outraged by such an evil deed. This attack on a prison officer was an attack on this whole community."

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