Thursday 18 January 2018

Book of evidence delay for man charged in connection with David Black murder

David Black was shot as he drove to work in Co Armagh on November 1
David Black was shot as he drove to work in Co Armagh on November 1

Brian Kavanagh

THE State is not currently in a position to serve a book of evidence on a 44-year-old man charged in connection with the murder of Northern Ireland prison officer David Black, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

In December last year Vincent Banks, of Smitfield Gate Apartments, Smithfield, Dublin 7, was 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 was also charged with withholding information in relation to the murder of David Black.

Counsel for the accused man, Ms Siobhan Ni Chulachain BL, this morning told the non-jury court that on the last case hearing the State had sought a six-week adjournment for service of a book of evidence, as “all that was missing” from the book were a small number of statements.

She said that as the State was now seeking a further adjournment, the court should be given “serious reasons” for the unavailability of the book.

State Solicitor Mr Michael O’Donovan told the court that although Mr Banks was in custody there was consent to bail which the accused had been unable to take up.

He said the State was in the process of “doing” the book but had been “extremely busy” preparing other books of evidence. Mr O’Donovan said he was confident that the book would be ready over the Easter period.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said the court would put the matter back for four weeks and reminded both parties that it was possible to serve additional statements at a later stage and that Mr Banks was unlikely to get a trial date “for some time”.

Mr Justice Sheehan, sitting with Judge John O’Hagan and Judge Flannan Brennan, said the court would put the matter back until April 17th.

The charge states that the accused, between October 10th and December 20th 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.

Father-of-two David Black (52), who worked at the high security Maghaberry jail in Co Antrim, was shot dead as he drove to work on a motorway near Lurgan in Co Armagh on November 1st last.

Dissident republicans claimed responsibility.

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