Belfast Telegraph

Son of murdered prison officer Black of anger at suspect's luxury break

By Staff Reporter

The son of a murdered prison officer has hit out after a dissident republican charged in connection with the killing was allowed to enjoy a luxury hotel spa break.

The Belfast Telegraph reported last week how Damien McLaughlin was granted permission by a court to skip his curfew and stop signing bail for three days while enjoying a mini break at a lakeside hotel in Co Fermanagh earlier this month.

McLaughlin, from the Kilmascally Road in Dungannon, is facing four charges in relation to the murder of David Black in 2012. His son Kyle said the family feel let down by the justice system.

"I wish daddy still had his basic human right of living, never mind being able to go away on a luxury weekend break," he said.

Mr Black was shot dead on the M1 en route to work at Maghaberry Prison. The 52-year-old from Cookstown was ambushed as he drove between Portadown and Lurgan.

Kyle said his family have had their lives "irreversibly changed by terrorism".

Speaking to Sunday Life, Kyle described as "disheartening" the court decision to relax bail conditions for dissident republican McLaughlin to allow him to enjoy a weekend break in the plush Manor House Hotel in Co Fermanagh.

"It's nearly four years later and the loss of daddy is still as raw as ever," added Kyle. "Every day is still very difficult and challenging but we have to try and live our lives in a way that would make him proud.

"My family has been irreversibly changed by terrorism but have always held the expectation that the justice system would do right by us.

"We hope that those responsible will face justice and be held accountable for what they have done. But seeing someone that is yet to stand trial in relation to dad's murder be granted relaxation of his bail conditions to go on a spa weekend, and also attend a republican parade, is very disheartening."

McLaughlin is currently the only man charged in connection with Mr Black's murder.

The charges include aiding and abetting Mr Black's killers, having a Toyota Camry car for use in terrorism, preparing a terrorist act by starting and moving the vehicle that the killers used, and belonging to a proscribed organisation, namely the IRA.

The prosecution alleges McLaughlin transported the Toyota car across the border the night before the attack, but he was released on bail in May 2014 due to delays in his case.

As part of his bail conditions he must report to a local police station five days a week and adhere to a curfew between 10.30pm and 7am.

But McLaughlin's bail conditions were relaxed to allow him to reside at the luxury Enniskillen lakeside hotel from Sunday, August 7 to Tuesday, August 9.

His curfew was waived for the spa weekend, though he was required to sign his bail at Enniskillen PSNI station on the Tuesday once he had checked out of the four-star accommodation.

Belfast Telegraph


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