Belfast Telegraph

Security alert over secret court snaps

By George Jackson

A prison officer was illegally photographed inside a Londonderry court on the same day warder David Black was murdered on his way to work at Maghaberry Prison, a District Judge has revealed.

Mr Black was gunned down on November 1 as he drove to work along the M1 near Lurgan.

A dissident republican group calling itself ‘the IRA’ later claimed responsibility for his murder.

Judge Barney McElholm made the disclosure at the Magistrates Court in Derry during a preliminary enquiry hearing of two local men who are charged with terrorist offences. He then ordered the public area of the court cleared of everyone except relatives of the two accused.

The defendants, Tony Taylor (44) from Bishop Street and Mark Kerr (25) from Carranbane Walk — both in Derry — are jointly charged with possession of a semi-automatic Remington Magnum rifle and possession of the weapon with intent to endanger life.

The defendant Kerr is further charged with possessing and possessing with intent to supply a length of manufactured detonating cord.

Both men are alleged to have committed the offences in the Foyle Road area of Derry on August 2, 2011.

Armed police officers were in court for the hearing, as were several dozen relatives and friends of the defendants.

Before the hearing started Mr McElholm said he wanted the public seats cleared of everyone except family members of the defendants.

“There was an incident on the last day of the hearing by someone who took a photograph of Mr Taylor in the dock and also a photograph of a prison officer. Considering the murderous event which took place on that day, I am not prepared to allow that sort of thing to happen again.

“I want the court cleared of anyone who is not a close family member.

“I will allow a few members of the public to stay but I cannot take the risk of someone taking a photograph again,” he said.

The District Judge then warned

that anyone whose mobile phone went off would be immediately arrested and would have their phone confiscated.

Meanwhile during the hearing both defendants replied “not at this stage” when asked if they had anything to say in answer to the charges.

Mr McElholm said he found a prima facie case against defendant Taylor, whose left arm was in a sling following an alleged incident inside Maghaberry Prison.

Defence solicitor Paddy Mac Dermott said he accepted that his client, defendant Kerr, also had a prima facie case to answer.

Both defendants were remanded in continuing custody until they're arraigned before Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

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