A BOOK of evidence has been served at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin on a man charged in connection with last year’s murder of prison officer David Black.
Mr Black was shot dad on the M1 between Portadown and Lurgan last November as he travelled to work at Maghaberry prison.
Vincent Banks (44), of Smithfield Gate Apartments, Smithfield, Dublin, was charged last December with membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA, on December 18, 2012. He was also charged with withholding information in relation to the murder of Cookstown native David Black.
Prosecution solicitor Michael O’Donovan said the State was in a position to serve the book of evidence and it was handed to Mr Banks by a detective.
Mr Banks is charged that between October 10 and December 20 inclusive, within the State, being a person who had information which he knew or believed might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of another person for a serious offence, namely the murder of David Black, did fail without reasonable excuse to disclose the information as soon as was practicable to gardaí.
Father-of-two David Black (52), who worked at the high-security Maghaberry Prison in Co Antrim, was shot dead as he drove to work on the motorway on November 1st. Dissident republicans claimed responsibility for the murder.
The court remanded Mr Banks until June 6 when the case will be mentioned again.
In February, the High Court in Belfast heard that a terror suspect charged with supplying the car used in the murder of prison officer David Black was an integral part of the murder plot.
Damien McLaughlin, of Kilmascally Road, Dungannon, denies a charge of preparation of a terrorist act.
The 36-year-old is charged under the Terrorism Act 2005 with supplying a car used by a dissident republican paramilitary gang who shot David Black as he drove to work on the M1 on November 1.
McLaughlin was refused bail at the High Court in Belfast to attend his child’s christening.
At the hearing, Crown prosecutors claimed CCTV evidence backs their case against him.
They say Mr McLaughlin transported a Dublin-registered Toyota Camry vehicle across the border on the eve of the attack, October 31.
Mr Black, 52, was shot dead near Lurgan as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison on 1 November 2012.
His car careered down a grass verge and into an embankment.
The court heard how the car used by the killers was bought in Dublin for 600 Euros through an ad last October.
False details were supplied by the purchaser, who is not alleged to be Mr McLaughlin, according to the prosecution.
The car was said to have been moved to Carrigallen, CountyLeitrim, where it remained for nearly three weeks.
A prosecution barrister claimed CCTV footage showed Mr McLaughlin in the village on 31 October.
It was alleged that he obtained a car battery used to start the vehicle.
Later that evening the car was known to have crossed the border into Northern Ireland, leaving the M1 near Lurgan, the court heard.
Mr Black was shot dead the next morning after leaving his Cookstown home to travel to the high security prison.
The Toyota Camry was later found burnt out in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
Opposing McLaughlin’s bid for temporary release, the prosecution lawyer outlined police fears that he may flee.
“They believe he has connections to dissident IRA groups,” she said.
The barrister also stressed that Mr McLaughlin is not suspected of just having a periphery involvement.
She added: “The police case, let’s be firm about it, is this applicant is part of a highly organised criminal gang intent on the assassination of a member of the Prison Service, and that he formed an integral part of that gang.”
Defence counsel Mark Mulholland QC argued that his client must be presumed innocent.
He claimed the case against McLaughlin was “sparse”, limited only to him allegedly being in the car the night before the murder.
“There is no suggestion of any active role in it,” Mr Mulholland insisted.
He disclosed that a priest was prepared to chaperone the accused at the christening in Ardboe.
Relatives were also prepared to lodge £13,000 in cash sureties and property deeds to secure bail.
But refusing the application, Mr Justice Treacy pointed out that Mr McLaughlin’s wife would have been heavily pregnant at the time he was alleged to have been involved in the terrorist plot.
The judge added: “It is untenable to expect or reasonably contemplate in those circumstances this court or any court would release this applicant on bail given the grave risks that would give rise to.”
Leading dissident suspect Colin Duffy was later arrested on suspicion of murdering David Black and held for two days at Antrim serious crime suite.
However, he was released after police refused to disclose to a court hearing “intelligence” linking Duffy to the shooting.
His lawyers are now suing the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott for wrongful arrest and detention.