THE widow of a prison officer murdered by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland has said his killers have robbed her family of an honest and caring man.
In an emotional plea for help finding the gang that shot her husband David as he drove to work, cancer nurse Yvonne Black said she could not comprehend the mindset of those responsible.
"I stand at people's beds and try to make every day as good as it can be because I know how precious life is," she said. "People struggle for every hour and to think that somebody could just take somebody's life, just like that, it is just beyond my understanding."
She added: "I just can't understand how anybody can have so much hatred for somebody that they would want to do this."
Mrs Black was accompanied by her children Kyle, 21, and Kyra, 17, as she spoke publicly for the first time about her husband's murder earlier this month.
The 52-year-old long-serving officer from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, was driving to start his shift at the high security Maghaberry prison in Co Antrim when a car pulled alongside his on the M1 motorway near Lurgan, Co Armagh and shots were fired. A dissident group styling itself the "IRA" claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn attack.
Republican extremists opposed to the peace protest had been engaged in a long-running campaign against prison conditions inside Maghaberry at the time. Despite a number of arrests, no one has been charged in connection with the murder.
Mrs Black, who works as a Macmillan nurse in Altnagelvin hospital in Londonderry, had been on her ward round that morning when news started to filter through that something terrible had happened.
"To think I was going to work that day, David was going to work, Kyle was going to work and that somebody at the same time was planning to do this - that just breaks my heart," she said. "He was so young, he had such a life ahead and we had so many plans and so many things that we were going to do in the future, and that's all just disappeared now."
Police can be contacted on 0845 600 8000 or anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.