Son of murdered prison officer’s pain at relaxation of accused’s bail

Kyle Black, left, and Damien Joseph McLaughlin
Kyle Black, left, and Damien Joseph McLaughlin

The son of murdered prison officer David Black has spoken of his distress over the controversial court decision to allow a dissident republican charged in connection with his father’s killing to go on a luxury spa break.

Earlier this month Damien McLaughlin was allowed to skip his curfew days while he enjoyed a luxury break in the Manor House Hotel in Fermanagh from August 7 to August 9.

Damien Joseph McLaughlin

Damien Joseph McLaughlin

“I wish daddy still had his basic human right of living, never mind being able to go away on a luxury weekend break,” Kyle Black told Sunday Life.

Kyle said he, his mother Yvonne and sister Kyra have had their lives “irreversibly changed by terrorism”.

“It’s nearly four years later and the loss of daddy is still as raw as ever,” added Kyle.

“My family has been irreversibly changed by terrorism and have always held the expectation that the justice system would do right by us.

“I hope that those responsible will face justice and be held accountable for what they have done.

“But seeing someone that is yet to stand trial in relation to dad’s murder be granted relaxation of his bail to go on a spa weekend, and also attend a republican parade, is very disheartening.”

McLaughlin is currently the only person charged in connection with the murder.

The charges include aiding and abetting Mr Black’s killers, having a car for use in terrorism, preparing a terrorist act by starting and moving the vehicle that the killers used, and membership of a proscribed organisation.

The 52-year-old prison officer from Cookstown was murdered on the M1 motorway at 7.30am on November 1, 2012, as he drove to HMP Maghaberry.

It was the first time in nearly 20 years that a member of the Northern Ireland Prison Service had been murdered.

Days after Mr Black’s death, the New IRA group claimed responsibility for the murder.

At the time, the group cited an ongoing dispute over dissident republican prisoners being strip searched in Maghaberry as their motive.

Immediately after his murder, the Black family’s minister, Rev Tom Greer, said they appealed for no retaliation “from any quarter”. “David’s wife Yvonne is broken by the loss of her husband,” he said, adding that Mr Black was a man who had a “great sense of humour”.

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