Bail scandal: move to try David Black accused in his absence

Damien McLaughlin skipped bail some time late last year
Damien McLaughlin skipped bail some time late last year

A court is set to hear arguments over whether Damien McLaughlin’s trial in connection with the murder of David Black will proceed without him being present.

McLaughlin’s whereabouts are currently unknown, because he fled whilst out on bail some time late last year – a fact which only came to light last month.

At a short hearing in Belfast’s Laganside court complex on Tuesday, crown barrister Terry Mooney noted that the original trial was scheduled to take place this coming Monday.

The court was told that arguments are to be presented for the trial to proceed in the absence of McLaughlin, who is aged 40 and from Kilmascally Road, in the Ardboe area of east Co Tyrone.

The judge, Mr Justice Treacy, agreed that a hearing on the matter will be scheduled for this Thursday at Laganside, at 10am.

McLaughlin – who has previous terrorist convictions – denies the following set of charges: aiding and abetting murder, belonging to a proscribed organisation (namely, the IRA), possession of an article for use in terrorism (namely, a Toyota Camry car), and preparation of terrorist acts in relation to the murder of prison officer Mr Black on November 1, 2012.