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Wednesday 17 September 2014

PSNI officers give evidence at trial of man charged in connection with David Black murder

BRIAN KAVANAGH

Published 04/03/2014 | 17:14

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David Black was shot dead on the M1 last year
David Black was shot dead on the M1 last year

PSNI officers have given evidence in the Dublin trial of a man charged with withholding information in relation to the murder of Northern Ireland prison officer David Black.

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Vincent Banks (44), of Smithfield Gate Apartments in Dublin 7, has pleaded not guilty to the charge before the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

Constable Gary Quinn, of the PSNI road and armed support branch, today (Tuesday) told prosecution counsel, Mr Paul Greene SC, that shortly before 7:50am on November 1, 2012 he went to the M1 motorway near Lurgan.

Const Quinn saw that a black Audi car had come off the motorway and was in a drainage ditch. He said there were several members of the public gathered on the hard shoulder.

His colleague, Constable Jane Johnston, told Mr Greene she also attended the scene and saw a car stopped around a 300 yard marker on the motorway and another car in the ditch.

Const Johnston told counsel for the accused man, Mr Micheal P. O’Higgins SC, that witnesses at the scene who had observed the shooting briefly described to her what they had seen.

She told Mr O’Higgins that one witness told her he believed the other car involved was “possibly a silver-coloured car with a Sligo registration plate”.

Const Johnston said that she recalled making a statement where she outlined having a conversation with a female passenger of a car stopped at the scene, who related how she saw a gun come out of the passenger side window of a car in front of her on the motorway and heard “three or four” shots.

She agreed that the witness described the car as a navy-coloured old style Nissan with a foreign registration.

Constable Catherine Mallon told Mr Michael Bowman BL, for the State, that she went to Inglewood near Lurgan on November 1 and observed a burnt-out vehicle in a Cul de Sac.

She said the registration of this vehicle was 94 D 50997.

At the outset of the case, Mr Greene said the court would hear evidence that 52-year-old Mr Black, who worked at the high security Maghaberry jail in Co Antrim, was shot to death by the occupants of a Republic of Ireland registered Toyota Camry car registration 94 D 50997 as he drove to work on the M1 motorway near Lurgan on November 1, 2012.

It is the prosecution case that the Toyota Camry was “connected intimately” with the murder of David Black and the car was purchased by Mr Banks.

The charge against Mr Banks states that the accused, between October 10th and December 20th 2012 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 Gardai.

Mr Banks is also charged with membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on December 18th, 2012.

He has been remanded on the membership count and that matter will proceed immediately upon the judgement on the withholding information count.

The trial continues in front of presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler.

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