Bail scandal: PPS did not object to ‘unbelievably laughable’ sureties

The PPS, headed by Barra McGrory, said the sureties were set at a time that an electronic tag was in place

The PPS, headed by Barra McGrory, said the sureties were set at a time that an electronic tag was in place

Public prosecutors did not raise any specific objections to either the relatively low level at which sureties were set for a missing terror suspect, or the relaxation of the number of days he had to sign for bail.

It is understood that police objected to the granting of bail for Damien McLaughlin in the first place, and that they had then objected to the relaxation of his bail conditions after it was granted (including the removal of his monitoring tag).

They also specifically objected to the amount at which bail was set.

McLaughlin was last seen by police in mid-November and now cannot be found. He denies charges against him, which include aiding and abetting the murder of David Black (see details of his disappearance here).

The PPS was asked what approach it had taken to bail, and to the subsequent relaxation of his conditions.

It told the News Letter it had “opposed bail continuously” before it was granted in 2014, and also opposed the later removal of McLaughlin’s electronic tag.

However, on the subject of the level of sureties, it said prosecutors had raised no objections themselves.

Bail was granted in 2014 on the understanding that two sureties of £750 each would be provided to the court.

These are essentially deposits put up by family or friends in an attempt to reassure the court that an accused person will comply with their bail conditions.

As reported, the court agreed to these levels despite the fact that McLaughlin’s family had earlier indicated that they could provide sureties of up to £13,000.

David Black’s son Kyle has told the News Letter that setting the surety level for someone facing such serious charges at two lots of £750 was “unbelievably laughable”.

The PPS said the level was similar to that imposed in an alleged terror prosecution of another individual, and that it had been set at a time when McLaughlin was required to wear a tag.

When it came to the issue of cutting the number of days he had to sign bail from five days per week to three, it said: “The defence application lodged with the court at that time was for the reporting requirement to be reduced to three days.

“Our records would suggest that no objection was made to the reduction to five days a week which was ultimately ordered by the Crown Court.”

The Lord Chief Justice’s office has told the News Letter that it did not wish to comment on the specific case.