Belfast Telegraph

IRA conviction for David Black murder car buyer Vincent Banks

By Daniel Hickey

A man who bought the car used in the shooting of prison officer David Black has been found guilty of IRA membership by the Republic's Special Criminal Court.

Mr Black, a 52-year-old father-of-two, was shot dead in Co Armagh in November 2012 while driving to work at Maghaberry Prison.

Vincent Banks (47), of Smithfield Gate Apartments in Dublin, had denied membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the IRA, or Oglaigh na hEireann, on December 18, 2012.

The non-jury court had heard that on November 1, 2012 Mr Black was killed in a "drive-by shooting" by the occupants of a Toyota Camry on the M1. The car was later found further along the motorway, burnt out in a ditch. Firearm cartridges connected to the death of Mr Black were found in the car.

Garda learned the Camry was registered to a Paul McCann with an address on Rathgar Road in Dublin. The landlord told the Garda there was no resident of that name living there, but that he recalled receiving a letter addressed to Paul McCann. The letter contained the car registration certificate for the Camry.

The Camry had been sold on October 10. When the log-book was analysed, Banks' right thumbprint was found.

The car was transported to Carrigallen, Co Leitrim, and parked there until October 31, the day before Mr Black was shot dead. Banks was arrested on December 18. The court heard that during interviews Banks told Garda he knew nothing about Mr Black or the Camry.

The court had also heard "belief evidence" from Chief Superintendent Gerry Russell that Banks was an IRA member on the date in question.

The defence claimed the prosecution was unable to point to "one single activity which could be described as uniquely consistent with IRA membership".

Delivering judgment yesterday, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Gerard Haughton, said the court accepted the evidence of the chief superintendent, and this was supported and corroborated by other parts of the prosecution case.

The judge said that it was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Banks was the purchaser of the Camry. She said the court was also satisfied that during Garda interviews Banks either told "lies" or failed to answer material questions and that the court could draw inferences from this failure.

Ms Justice Kennedy stated it was reasonable to draw inferences from the accused man's conduct in the months leading up to his arrest that he was a member of the IRA on the date in question.

Banks was remanded in custody until October 9, when he will be sentenced.

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