Belfast Telegraph

Trial collapses of man accused of David Black prison officer murder involvement

The trial of Damien Joseph McLaughlin and his alleged involvement in the dissident republican murder of prison officer David Black, has collapsed.

The end of the Diplock style, non-jury, judge only, case came on Thursday with the prosecution acknowledgement they won't contest the ruling to exclude the hearsay evidence of their "sole .. decisive" witness taken from a dozen Garda conducted "profane" littered interviews.

Prosecution QC Terrence Mooney told Mr Justice Colton that after giving "earnest consideration" of his judgement, he was not seeking leave, either from him, or the Court of Appeal to challenge his ruling.

And "as a consequence we (prosecution) would not be offering any further evidence" against McLaughlin.

Mr Justice Colton said that "it seems in those circumstances that I am compelled to direct a not guilty verdicts on each of the courts".

Listening in the wings of Belfast's No 12 Crown Court was the widow of 52-year-old Mr Black, Yvonne and his son Kyle, one of his two children, together with other family members and friends.

In all 41-year-old McLaughlin from Kilmascally Road near Ardboe, was cleared of the six terror charges he denied, including aiding and abetting, in the Irish Republic, the November 1 murder in 2012, having the Toyota Carmy car used by the gunmen in the M1 drive-by shooting, and IRA membership.

On Tuesday Mr Justice Colton, in a highly legalised ruling, rejected a prosecution application to have the Garda interviews of Co Leitrim man Stephen Brady, the central plank of their case, accepted as hearsay evidence.

Although the dozen tapes were played during the five week hearing, which first heard evidence in early April, Mr Justice Colton, declared that "in the interests of justice" the evidence couldn't form part of the trial, but even if it had, given it was "so unconvincing .... I would acquit (McLaughlin) on the grounds his convcition ... would be unsafe".

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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