shattered lives | 

Widow of murdered prison officer David Black issues emotional appeal 10 years after shooting

‘My husband and our children's father wasn't a danger or threat to anyone and he most certainly was no-one's legitimate target’

David Black

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

The widow of murdered prison officer David Black has said they mourn the death of "a good man, a wonderful husband and father” every single day.

The father-of-two from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, was killed in a drive-by shooting on 1 November, 2012.

He was targeted as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison around 7.30am on the M1 motorway between Portadown and Lurgan.

A republican organisation calling itself the New IRA said it carried out the murder.

Speaking on the 10th anniversary of the 52-year-old’s murder, Yvonne called for the help and support of the broader community to bring those responsible to justice.

"We would issue a plea to those who hold information concerning the events leading up to the murder of David, information concerning what happened that fateful morning and the aftermath," she said.

"Loyalties change and we are appealing for information to be given, however small, which could help build the jigsaw, progressing justice and accountability.

"We continue to try to build our lives as best we can. We have in many ways concealed our own hurt and pain to the outside world but we require the help and support of the broader community in order to give us an opportunity to have some level of peace, currently denied us through the lack of successful convictions against those responsible for David's murder."

Ms Black said that it is now 10 years since David was "stolen away from us," adding that he was "a good man, a wonderful husband and father and he worked extremely hard fulfilling a role as provider".

"When he was murdered, our lives were shattered, everything we had come to know had been taken away from us," Ms Black said.

"We mourn him every day and there have been very difficult times down the years as we have tried to come to terms with the new life we've all been forced to live."

Ms Black said she has "tried to keep going for our children", Kyle and Kyra, who have also helped "lift me up at points when life is challenging for me".

"My husband and our children's father wasn't a danger or threat to anyone and he most certainly was no-one's legitimate target; he was highly respected across the community and indeed by his former colleagues and inmates alike," she said.

"David lived his life by the adage 'respect breeds respect' and this is how he conducted his life, personally and professionally within his work as a prison officer."

An increased reward of £20,000 (€23,250) has been offered for information leading to the prosecution of those responsible.

To date, detectives from the PSNI and An Garda Síochána have made 12 arrests on both sides of the border, undertaken numerous searches of premises and vehicles and taken more than 1,000 statements.

But no-one has yet been convicted of Mr Black's murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Anthony Kelly has appealed to the communities of both Cookstown and Lurgan to come forward with information regarding the investigation.

"Our investigation into David's murder, is very much active," he said.

"We believe there are members of the communities of Lurgan and Cookstown who have information that will bring those responsible for David's murder to justice.

"David's family deserves closure and although it won't bring him back, it will help bring those responsible before the courts. Time may have passed, but it is not too late to do the right thing for David's family.

"On Thursday 1 November, 2012, David was shot and killed as he drove from his Cookstown home to work at Maghaberry prison in his black Audi A4 car along the motorway between Portadown (Junction 11) and Lurgan (Junction 10).

"The dark blue Toyota Camry used in the murder was in Lurgan prior to the shooting on the evening of October 31.

"The following morning, 1 November, less than one mile from the Lurgan exit on the M1, the dark blue Toyota Camry car with a Republic of Ireland registration, 94 D 50997, pulled alongside David Black and a number of shots were fired, killing him.

"The Toyota Camry was found burnt out in the Inglewood area of Lurgan a short time later at 7.45am.

"I would appeal to people in Cookstown to think about what they saw in the days and weeks before David's murder. Did you see any unusual activity around David's home or the places he frequented? If you have any information, please contact us."

Mick Duthie, director of operations at the UK charity Crimestoppers which is offering the £20,000 reward for information, added: "We hope that our charity's reward for anonymous information will go some way to helping secure justice for David and his family and friends.

"With Crimestoppers, we don't want to know who you are, only what you know."

Mr Black was the first prison officer to be killed by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland in almost 20 years.

His killing in 2012 prompted united political condemnation from then-DUP leader Peter Robinson, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, the then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny and members of the US administration.

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