David Black accused ‘not seen by police since November’

Damien McLauglin has had his bail revoked
Damien McLauglin has had his bail revoked

One of Northern Ireland’s most senior judges today revoked the bail of a Co Tyrone man facing trial on charges linked to the murder of prison officer David Black.

Damien Joseph McLaughlin is due to stand trial next month on terrorist charges including supplying a car to dissident republicans who gunned down Mr Black as he drove to work on the M1 in November 2012.

The 40-year old, from Kilmascally Road in Dungannon, had spent time on remand, but was granted bail in May 2014.

However, a Crown prosecutor informed Mr Justice Treacy that the accused has not been seen by police since last November and is no longer living at his bail address in Belfast. Revealing that it was not clear whether or not McLaughlin had absconded ahead of his trial, the prosecutor asked that his bail be revoked.

During the application made at Belfast Crown Court, the Crown barrister said that when McLauglin was initially granted bail, a series of conditions were imposed. They included living at an address in Ardboe, adhering to a curfew, surrendering his passport, being tagged and signing with police every day.

The bail conditions were subsequently varied, whereby his tag was removed and the signing with police was reduced from every day to five days a week. In addition, last March his bail address was changed to an address in west Belfast.

The prosecutor revealed that McLauglin failed to sign with police last November, and that since then they have not seen him. He also said that on December 23, police called to the address in Belfast which he said “appears to have effectively been cleared out.”

Milk that was four weeks out of date was found in the fridge.

The court heard that when officers checked his other address in Ardboe, and those of family members, this was “of no assistance.” The prosecutor also said that the people who provided sureties, namely McLaughlin’s uncles, were also “not able to assist in locating him”.

The prosecutor said that whilst it was not clear whether or not McLaughlin had absconded, he had breached his bail conditions. This, he said, suggested “the proper course now is to revoke his bail”.

When McLaughlin’s legal team were asked to comment on the circumstances, his barrister told the court “we have nothing to say”.

Mr Justice Treacy then said “bail is revoked”.

McLaughlin is due to face a Diplock non-jury trial in February on terrorist charges including aiding and abetting the murder of Mr Black, possessing articles for use in terrorism and belonging to a proscribed organisation.