Wednesday 18 October 2017

Suspect in prison officer's murder marched at Ryan funeral, court told

Michael McHugh and Tom Brady

A MAN allegedly linked to the murder of a prison officer in Northern Ireland was claimed to be involved in a marching group at the funeral of Real IRA faction leader, Alan Ryan.

A police officer claimed in court the man was part of a "colour party" at the funeral of Ryan, who was shot dead in Dublin in September.

Damien Joseph McLaughlin (36) was refused bail at Craigavon Magistrates' Court after a judge said he posed a serious risk of reoffending.

He denies obtaining and bringing from the Republic the Toyota Camry, which was used in the fatal shooting of David Black (52) on the M1 motorway in Co Armagh on November 1.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland detective said: "The evidence is that there is CCTV showing Mr McLaughlin in a shop very close to the car making inquiries about a battery that would allow him to start the car because there was an issue with starting it.

"The gardai have evidence that Mr McLaughlin obtained assistance to start the car."

Dissident republicans claimed responsibility for killing father-of-two Mr Black as he drove to work at Maghaberry high security prison, near Lisburn, Co Antrim.

McLaughlin is allegedly linked by CCTV evidence and a registration plate trace by gardai to a Toyota Camry moved north from the Republic a day before the killing.


A car with the same registration mark and make was found abandoned after the high-speed shooting.

Detectives believe they know where and approximately when the vehicle was moved, police claimed in court.

McLaughlin, from Kilmascally Road, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, appeared via video link from Maghaberry accused of obtaining the car at Carrigallen, Co Leitrim, and bringing it to Northern Ireland.

His solicitor Peter Corrigan told Craigavon Magistrates' Court that security camera footage did not show his client close to the vehicle and there was no evidence that he started the car.

"There was CCTV in relation to the car being in the Clogher Valley but no evidence linking my client to that," he said.

"There is no evidence linking him to starting a vehicle, using a battery or, more importantly, driving a vehicle."

A detective told the court: "Gardai have provided the PSNI with material and information that will in due course become evidence, allowing us to suspect Mr McLaughlin had gone to Leitrim the day before the murder and brought that Toyota Camry north of the Border."

He said police opposed bail.

Mr Corrigan said his client was prepared to put up a surety of £750,000 (€921,000).

District Judge Alan White dismissed the bail application.

McLaughlin is due to appear again via video link at Craigavon Magistrates' Court on February 1.

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