Damien McLaughlin case not set to be reviewed until January

Damien McLaughlin
Damien McLaughlin

A court heard today that extradition proceedings were continuing in the Irish Republic to have a dissident republican returned to Northern Ireland to stand trial on charges linked to the murder of prison officer David Black.

Damien Joseph McLaughlin, 41 and of Kilmascally Road, east Tyrone, skipped bail late in 2016 and fled.

He was awaiting his trial, which was set to start in February this year, for aiding and abetting the murder of Mr Black in November 2012, plus charges of possessing articles for use in terrorism, preparation for acts of terrorism, and belonging to a proscribed organisation – charges he denies.

McLaughlin was arrested in Co Donegal this year by armed Gardai on foot of a European Extradition Warrant issued on behalf of the PSNI.

At Belfast Crown Court today a prosecution lawyer told Mr Justice Colton: “Mr McLaughlin, as you may already be aware, is in the Republic of Ireland awaiting extradition.

“The court in Dublin earlier this week requested more information from the requesting state, ie the UK, and it is likely that further substantial submissions will be made to the court.”

Mr Justice Colton agreed to review the case on January 12, 2018.

McLaughlin was on bail at an address in west Belfast but when police called last December he could not be found and milk in the fridge was four weeks out of date.

The failure by the PSNI to carry out regular bail checks is currently the subject of a Police Ombudsman investigation. McLaughlin was eventually arrested on March 2 while walking along a street in Ramelton, en route to Letterkenny.

This week, the Irish News reported that judge Aileen Donnelly in Dublin had expressed concerns about strip-searching Maghaberry, which raises “a real risk that this respondent could be subject to inhuman and degrading conditions on surrender”.

The next hearing in the Republic is due in Dublin’s High Court on November 21.