Northern Ireland

David Black's widow tells of 'desperate pain'

The widow of the first prison officer to be murdered in Northern Ireland in 20 years has spoken of her family's "desperate pain".

David Black, a 52-year-old father of two, was shot as he drove to work on the M1 in County Armagh on 1 November.

His son, Kyle, read about a killing on Facebook and "knew" it was his father.

Yvonne Black said her husband was proud of his profession and had not been concerned about his security.

Mr Black had been driving to work at Maghaberry Prison, Northern Ireland's high security jail, when he was attacked.

A new dissident republican paramilitary group calling itself the IRA admitted the killing.

In her first interview since the killing, Mrs Black, a nurse, described her husband as a "fantastic father and husband".

She was at work when police informed her that her husband was dead.

Her first thoughts were for their children Kyle, 21 and Kyra, 17, and she said she "just went to pieces".

Image caption Prison officer David Black was shot as he drove to work

"I was numb. My feet could hardly carry me," she said.

"Part of me wanted to get home and the other part of me wanted to run away because I knew what was waiting at home and the reality of it."

She recalled the "extreme and profound sadness" in the subsequent days, describing his murder as "surreal".

Mrs Black said she could not understand how anybody would have "that much hatred" for another person.

"The hurtful thing is I was going to work, David was going to work, Kyle was going to work and somebody at the same time was planning to do this and that breaks my heart.

"It's beyond my understanding."

Mrs Black, whose own father died last November, described the day of her husband's funeral as "desperately difficult".

"When I saw the guard of honour, I didn't think my legs were going to carry me, because I could see all these prison officers in their uniforms.

"And I could just see David. David would have been part of that guard of honour. He took part every year in the memorial service.

"They had left a gap in the line where David should have been. When I saw that gap it was desperately painful."

Mr Black's son said "alarm bells" started to ring after reading about the murder of a prison officer on the M1.

"I just knew what I had read, that it was daddy", he said.

Image caption The Black family on holiday in Dubai earlier this year

"People who carried out this brutal murder don't deserve to be walking the streets (as) free men."

But he added: "We had a very close knit family. We have a lot of special memories, they can never take that from us."

His sister, Kyra, described her father as "special."

"He always had a smile on his face. He was just so caring and loving," she said.

Their mother said it was heartbreaking that her husband was killed before the family could get a chance to say goodbye to him.

She made an emotional appeal for anyone with information to contact the police, saying she had been robbed of a future.

"I would not want anybody to have to go through this for any reason.

"I have looked into other widows' eyes that have lost people 30 years ago and I can still see that pain in their eyes 30 years down the line and that scares me.

"As his wife and as his family we have to believe that the justice system will do right by David and catch these people.

"It won't bring him back but at least I would know justice has been done."

More on this story