Friday 24 November 2017

Court clears man accused of withholding information on prison officer David Black's murder

David Black was gunned down on a motorway on his way to work at Maghaberry high security prison in Co Antrim in November 2012.
David Black was gunned down on a motorway on his way to work at Maghaberry high security prison in Co Antrim in November 2012.

A Dublin man has been cleared by the Special Criminal Court of withholding information relating to the murder of Northern Ireland prison officer David Black in November 2012.

Vincent Banks (46), of Smithfield Gate Apartments in Dublin 7, had denied  the  charge of withholding information in relation to the murder between October 10th and December 20th, 2012.

 The court  heard that 52-year-old father of two  Mr Black, who worked at the high security Maghaberry jail in Co Antrim, was murdered as he drove to work on the M1 motorway near Lurgan on November 1, 2012.

 It was  the prosecution case that Mr Black was shot dead by the occupants of a Toyota Camry car with the Republic of Ireland registration 94 D 50997, and that this car was purchased by Mr Banks.

Today Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the non jury court, said the court was satisfied that Mr Black was "brutally murdered" when his car was fired on by persons in an overtaking car.

The judge said the court was also satisfied that Banks had "surreptitiously " bought a Toyota Camry and registered it in a false name and that the car was liked forensically to the shots which killed Mr Black.

However, the judge said that in order to convict Banks, the court must come to the conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt that Banks was aware that the car was to be used in connection with the murder of Mr Black.

"As no evidence, as opposed to suspicions, was led in that regard the court is satisfied that that conclusion is just one step too far and must be in doubt as to whether he had this knowledge," the judge added, and the court acquitted the accused.

The judged added that the court was highly impressed by the quality of the police investigations north and south of the border into the murder.

Banks was remanded on bail until April 9th next on another charge of IRA membership.

Mr Black's murder was claimed by the dissident terrorist group which terms itself "The IRA" and which is made up of former members of the Real IRA, former members of the Provisional IRA and anti drugs activists.

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