A man accused of supplying the car used in the assassination of a prison officer is to be granted bail due to delays in the case, a High Court judge ruled yesterday.
Mr Justice Weatherup held it to be unwarranted for Damien McLaughlin to face a wait of up to two years before any trial takes place.
The 37-year-old, of Kilmascally Road, Ardboe, Co Tyrone, denies a charge of preparation of a terrorist act.
He is alleged to have obtained the car used by dissident republicans who shot David Black.
McLaughlin’s bid to be released on bail was opposed amid claims he may flee or re-offend if released.
But the judge granted the application after pointing out that he has already been in custody for nearly a year and a half.
Noting the case seems to have been held back due to proceedings against Sean McVeigh, a 33-year-old Lurgan man charged with the murder, he said: “The longer the delay the more the court is concerned with justifying continued detention.”
With a preliminary inquiry hearing planned for June, Mr Justice Weatherup predicted McLaughlin could be in custody for up to two years before any trial is held.
“It seems to me in the circumstances I have been given that is unwarranted,” he said.
“Balancing all of the interests I have decided bail should be granted in this case.”
McLaughlin was ordered to report to police daily, observe a night-time curfew and banned from contacting McVeigh.
His barrister failed to have an electronic tagging condition lifted, claiming it is normally associated with sexual offenders and may stigmatise his client.
But prosecuting counsel Kate McKay argued that McVeigh’s own bail has not been perfected because he has refused to wear a tag.
Confirming that the monitoring device was required, the judge said: “It’s not limited to sexual offences and I consider it necessary for the purposes of his bail.”
David Black, 52, was gunned down on the M1 motorway near Lurgan as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison in November 2012.
According to the prosecution case ,McLaughlin transported a Toyota Camry vehicle across the Irish border on the eve of the attack.
The vehicle in which the killers were travelling was later found burnt out.