A Co Armagh man formerly accused of murdering a prison officer in Northern Ireland is to sue police and prosecutors after charges against him were dropped.
Sean McVeigh, 33, from Lurgan had always denied any involvement in the motorway shooting of David Black in 2012.
The murder charge facing him, and an additional count of possession of an assault rifle with the intent to endanger life, were both withdrawn by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) during a brief hearing at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court this morning.
Long serving warder Mr Black, 52, was shot dead as he drove to work at Maghaberry high security prison along the M1 motorway in Co Armagh.
He was the 31st prison officer to be killed in Northern Ireland, but the first murdered in almost 20 years.
When he was first arrested and charged in February, Mr McVeigh’s legal team had requested that the PPS review the case as they insisted there was no evidence against their client.
A lawyer for Mr McVeigh, from Victoria Street in Lurgan, confirmed he would now pursue legal action against the PPS and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Solicitor Peter Corrigan said: “There has been considerable adverse publicity for him and his family relating to this murder. It has now been proven that our client is totally innocent of the charges brought.”
He said Mr McVeigh would now be “instigating civil proceedings against the PSNI and PPS for the time he has spent in custody”.
During the court appearance, a lawyer from the PPS told district judge Mervyn Bates: “The charges in this matter are to be withdrawn.
“No prosecution has been directed.”
In response, judge Bates told Mr McVeigh, who stood in the dock in jeans and a white striped polo shirt, that he was free to go.
“As far as this matter is concerned you may be released from custody,” he said.
“This case is now at an end.”
Supporters of Mr McVeigh erupted into loud cheers at that point, prompting the judge to order them from the court.
Mr McVeigh smiled and gave a thumbs-up sign as he exited toward the holding cells with a custody officer.
Around 45 minutes later he made no public comment as he emerged from court flanked by supporters.
Mr McVeigh was the only person charged with the murder.
Two other people have been charged with lesser counts in connection with the killing.