Northern Ireland

Black murder: European arrest warrant for McLaughlin

Damien McLaughlin Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Damien McLaughlin has not been seen by police since November

A European Arrest Warrant has been obtained for 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, was due to stand trial this 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.

However, Mr McLaughlin has not been seen by police since November.

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.

Mr McLaughlin had spent time on remand after being charged in connection with the murder, but was granted bail in May 2014.

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said: "Inquiries have been made with the courts and as a result a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained, bail has been revoked and an arrest warrant has been issued for Mr McLaughlin."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 he went missing, police have carried out searches, interviewed associates and family members, checked CCTV security camera footage and made media appeals.

They have also liaised with law enforcement agencies across the UK, Republic of Ireland and Europe.

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

He revealed that a door buzzer at Mr McLaughlin's bail address was faulty.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption David Black, 52, was shot dead by dissident republicans as he drove to work

"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 Mr McLaughlin's bail conditions.

Mr 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.

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

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