Northern Ireland

David Black murder: Damien McLaughlin 'not seen since November'

Damien McLaughlin is due to stand trial next month Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Damien McLaughlin is due to stand trial next month

A judge has revoked the bail of a County Tyrone man facing trial on charges linked to the murder of prison officer David Black.

Damien Joseph McLaughlin, 40, of Kilmascally Road near Ardboe, is due to stand trial next month.

He is to face charges including aiding and abetting the murder, possessing items to be used in terrorism and belonging to an illegal organisation.

The court heard Mr McLaughlin has not been seen by police since November.

Mr McLaughlin had spent time on remand, but was granted bail in May 2014.

Mr Black was shot as he was driving to work in Maghaberry Prison in November 2012.

A Crown prosecutor told the court that Mr McLaughlin is no longer living at his bail address in Belfast.

Revealing that it was not clear whether or not Mr McLaughlin had absconded ahead of his trial, the prosecutor asked that his bail be revoked.

During the application at Belfast Crown Court, the Crown lawyer said that when Mr McLaughlin was initially granted bail, a series of conditions were imposed.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption David Black was the first Northern Ireland prison officer to be murdered in nearly 20 years

These included living at an address in Ardboe, adhering to a curfew, surrendering his passport, being tagged and signing with police every day.

The bail conditions were subsequently varied, whereby his tag was removed and the signing with police was reduced from every day to five days a week.

In addition, last March his bail address was changed to an address in west Belfast.

The prosecutor said that Mr McLaughlin failed to sign with police in November, and that since then they had not seen him.

He also said that on 23 December, police called to the address in Belfast which he said "appears to have effectively been cleared out".

Milk that was four weeks out of date was found in the fridge.

The court heard that when officers checked his other address in Ardboe, and those of family members, this was "of no assistance".

The prosecutor also said that the people who provided sureties, namely Mr McLaughlin's uncles, were also "not able to assist in locating him".

The prosecutor said that whilst it was not clear whether or not Mr McLaughlin had absconded, he had breached his bail conditions.

This, he said, suggested "the proper course now is to revoke his bail".

When Mr McLaughlin's legal team were asked to comment on the circumstances, his barrister told the court "we have nothing to say".

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