Belfast Telegraph

Man linked to car used in prison officer David Black murder to be sentenced

By Daniel Hickey

A Dublin man who bought the car that was later used in the fatal shooting of Northern Ireland prison officer David Black will be sentenced in the Republic later this month for IRA membership.

Mr Black, a 52-year-old father of two from Cookstown, was shot dead on November 1, 2012.

He was driving to work at Maghaberry prison along the M1 motorway when he was murdered.

Days after the murder the New IRA group claimed responsibility for the killing.

Vincent Banks (49), of Smithfield Gate Apartments in Dublin 7, was convicted in July by the non-jury Special Criminal Court in Dublin of membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on December 18, 2012.

At yesterday's brief sentencing hearing, Detective Inspector Anthony Lenehan, of the Garda Special Detective Unit, summarised the facts of the case.

He told the court that after Mr Black was shot dead, the PSNI established a forensic link between the shooting and a Toyota Camry.

Gardai learned that Banks had bought the car off a man in Tallaght.

When he signed the log book, Banks used his left hand and signed the name Paul McCann, with an address on Rathgar Road in Dublin.

Gardai spoke to the landlord of the premises on Rathgar Road.

He said that no resident with the name Paul McCann lived there and showed them a letter addressed to the name.

The letter contained the car registration certificate for the Camry.

Banks' right thumbprint was found on the document.

Det Insp Lenehan said that the car had ended up in Carrigallen, a village in Co Leitrim, near the border with Northern Ireland, and that in November, Banks was seen driving a friend's car from Carrigallen to Dublin.

Gardai searched the friend's car, where they found Banks' jacket and an ordnance survey map with the page displaying Co Leitrim torn out.

Banks' fingerprints were found on the map.

In the convicted man's apartment gardai found a copy of the Evening Herald open on a story about the murder of Mr Black.

The court had also heard evidence from Chief Superintendent Gerry Russell, who believed that Banks was a member of the IRA on the date in question.

Also part of the evidence were interviews conducted under Section 2 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1998.

The section allows a court to draw inferences if an accused person fails or refuses to answer material questions related to suspected IRA membership.

The court heard that Banks has no previous convictions of note.

Under cross-examination, Det Insp Lenehan told Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, that in April 2014 Banks was acquitted at the Special Criminal Court of withholding information in relation to the murder of Mr Black.

The detective agreed with Mr Dwyer that one of the reasons for Banks' acquittal on that occasion was that there was no evidence he knew the car was to be used in a murder.

Mr Dwyer asked the court to take into account the absence of serious criminal convictions and that his client had to wait two years and three months, during which he was on bail, for the IRA membership trial.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Gerard Haughton, remanded Banks in custody until October 23, when he will be sentenced.

Belfast Telegraph


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