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Court hears "belief evidence" of Chief Supt that accused man was IRA member

David Black
David Black

The Special Criminal Court has heard the "belief evidence" of a garda chief superintendent that a Dublin man was a member of the IRA.

The prosecution allege that Vincent Banks (47) purchased the car that was later used in the fatal shooting of Northern Irish prison officer David Black. 

Mr Black, a 52-year-old father of two, was shot dead on November 1st 2012. He was driving to work at Maghaberry prison when the incident occurred.

Mr Banks, of Smithfield Gate Apartments in Dublin 7 has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on December 18th 2012.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Russell told prosecuting counsel Paul Greene SC yesterday that he believes Mr Banks was a member of the IRA on the date in question. 

He told the court he was claiming privilege in relation to all material he viewed in order to form the opinion.

Padraig Dwyer SC, for Mr Banks, suggested that the belief was "false".

The chief supt disagreed and said that he based the belief on the material he viewed, as well as his experience with the Special Detective Unit. 

Earlier, the court ruled that interviews conducted with Mr Banks under Section 2 of the Offences Against the State Act were admissible as evidence. 

The defence had objected to the admissibility of the interviews. 

The section allows a court to draw inferences from a suspected person's failure or refusal to answer questions regarding alleged IRA membership.

The court had heard that during interviews Mr Banks denied he was a member of the IRA. 

He also told gardai that he had never seen the registration certificate for the car the prosecution allege was used in the shooting of Mr Black. 

The court heard that when detectives showed Mr Banks the certificate, the accused said, "I have never seen that document in my life". 

Previously, the court has heard that Mr Banks' thumb-print was found on the document. 

The trial continues in front of Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Gerard Haughton.