Bail scandal: timeline of a fiasco

Prison officer David Black's black Audi A4 car lies in a ditch off the M1 motorway this morning after the attack.
Prison officer David Black's black Audi A4 car lies in a ditch off the M1 motorway this morning after the attack.

Below is a breakdown of the key dates surrounding the disappearance of Damien McLaughlin.

McLaughlin denies charges in relation to the murder of David Black, and has yet to stand trial.

See here for details of the story.

November 1, 2012: A car driven by David Black, a 52-year-old father-of-two, is fired on as he travels to work at Maghaberry jail along the M1. He dies at the scene.

December 20, 2012: Damien McLaughlin appears in court for the first time in connection with the killing, charged with preparation of terrorist acts. Today, he denies this charge, along with charges of aiding and abetting murder, belonging to a proscribed organisation, and possession of an article for use in terrorism.

May 2, 2014: He is granted bail for the first time. It was predicted that it could take two years for the case to come to trial, and the High Court was told by Mr Justice Weatherup it would be “unwarranted” to keep him on remand until then. Bail conditions involved reporting to police daily, wearing an electronic tag, observing a night-time curfew, and being banned from contacting another named individual. Two sureties of £750 were agreed.

December 18, 2014: A court orders removal of his tag.

Belfast Crown Court was told last Friday that at some point his bail had also been varied to mean he only had to sign five days a week, not seven, and the address he was to live at was changed from the Ardboe area to west Belfast.

His last bail conditions at time of writing were: report to police five days per week in Belfast, do not contact two named individuals, surrender passport, and observe a curfew between 10.30pm and 7am.

September 21, 2016: The last recorded instance in the News Letter of him appearing in court. He denied the charges, the case was listed to begin on February 20, and he was released on bail by Mr Justice Treacy.

November 18, 2016: The last time he signed for bail with police.

December 23, 2016: Police search his west Belfast bail address and find milk a month out of date. Police have not made clear whether or not this was the very first time they had searched the property.

January 3, 2017: Police notify the lawyers of the PPS that he is missing, and they prepare a court hearing to revoke his bail.

January 6, 2017: His bail is revoked in court, and an arrest warrant issued. The News Letter runs the story on the next two front pages.

January 10, 2017: Police apologise to David Black’s family for its handling of the case.