News

Man accused of prison officer David Black murder has bail relaxed for spa break

NewsBy Jamie McDowell
Damien McLaughlin
Damien McLaughlin

A man accused of the murder of prison officer David Black in 2012 has been allowed to skip his curfew and stop signing bail so that he could go for a Fermanagh spa break.

McLaughlin stayed at the Manor House Hotel in Ennniskillen from August 7 to August 9.

The only condition was that he sign bail at Enniskillen PSNI station after checking out of the hotel on August 9.

On just the first day of his relaxed bail conditions, McLaughlin was pictured alongside two convicted terrorists, Sharon Rafferty and Conor Casey, at an anti-internment parade in Belfast.

McLaughlin, from the Kilmascally Road in Dungannon, is facing four charges in relation to the murder of Robert Black.

Officer Robert Black 

The 52-year-old father of two was shot dead as he drove to his work at Maghaberry Prison on the M1 in November of 2012. 

Charges against McLaughlin include aiding and abetting his murder, having a Toyota Camry car for use in terrorism, preparing a terrorist act by starting and moving the vehicle which the killers used, and belonging to a proscribed organisation - the IRA.

DUP MLA Nelson McCausland said: "There is a widespread concern about the way in which the courts are dealing with cases involving so-called dissident republicans.

"That is in relation to the granting of bail, the setting of bail conditions and the sentencing of dissident republicans who have been convicted of terrorist offences.

"It seems that some judges are taking an extremely lenient view of these cases. It is almost as if they do not regard 'dissident republicans' as serious terrorists."

Earlier this week prominent republican Dee Fennell has had his bail conditions changed so that he can go on holiday to Donegal.

Fennell is due to stand trial later this year on three charges in relation to a speech he made in Lurgan last Easter.

He's charged with inviting support for the IRA, encouraging acts of terrorism and addressing a group to encourage support for the IRA.

A lawyer acting on behalf of the Crown opposed the changes to Fennell's bail conditions, stating that while he was awaiting trial for the alleged offences, he had been arrested and quizzed by police over the murder of Belfast man Michael McGibbon.

Fennell's solicitor, Peter Corrigan, told Judge Gordon Kerr QC, said that Fennell hadn't been charged in connection with the murder and that "he has been on bail for a significant period without breaching his conditions".

He added: "He is not going to abscond."

Fennell will have to report to Garda twice a week and his phone number and the number of the cottage he is staying in must be given to authorities in the Republic.