European Arrest Warrant issued for David Black accused

Damien McLaughlin
Damien McLaughlin

A European Arrest Warrant has been obtained for a suspect in the murder of Northern Irish prison officer David Black, police said.

Damien Joseph McLaughlin, 40, from Co Tyrone, was due to stand trial this month on charges that include aiding and abetting his murder but fled while on bail.

Mr Black, 52, was shot dead by dissident republicans as he drove along the M1 on his way to work at Maghaberry Prison in November 2012.

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said: "Inquiries have been made with the courts and as a result a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained, bail has been revoked and an arrest warrant has been issued for Mr McLaughlin."

Since his disappearance was established in December police have carried out several searches, interviewed his associates and family members, checked CCTV security camera footage and made media appeals.

Detectives have liaised with law enforcement agencies across the British Isles and Europe, including the Garda in the Republic and Europol.

Mr Hamilton said: "In the period between November 23 2016 and December 23 2016 there appears to have been a breakdown in the monitoring of the bail by police."

A door buzzer at his bail address was faulty.

The chief constable added: "Whilst the issue of the entry to the block of flats for curfew checks was being examined this was not joined up with the fact he was not now signing at the police station as required."

He said a computer process was shown to be ineffective in highlighting bail breaches in a timely fashion and noted human error in the form of a breakdown in communication.

The Police Ombudsman has begun an investigation to establish whether there were any failings in police conduct or in policing systems in the management of McLaughlin's bail conditions.

The accused is from Kilmascally Road near Ardboe in Co Tyrone.

Mr Black's family have said they feel betrayed by the criminal justice system.

McLaughlin had initially been fitted with an electronic tag while on bail but he was permitted by a court to remove it in December 2014 despite strong police objections.