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David Black accused to face extradition proceedings

Damien McLaughlin leaves Laganside Court after a previous hearing

A SUSPECTED dissident wanted in Northern Ireland in connection with the murder of prison officer David Black is to face extradition proceedings next month.

Damien McLaughlin (40), of Kilmascally Road near Ardboe, absconded from his bail address in west Belfast last November and went on the run.

The PSNI later admitted that it only became aware of his disappearance when officers called the following month and discovered the house empty of furniture.

A manhunt was launched on both sides of the border and police eventually secured a European Arrest Warrant for him to be arrested on sight.

He was eventually arrested by an armed Garda response unit on March 2 while walking in Ramelton, Co Donegal.

McLaughlin was later taken to Dublin where he appeared before the Central Criminal Court and was remanded in custody.

He was due to stand trial later this year accused of aiding and abetting in the murder of David Black in November 2012, possessing articles in connection with terrorism, preparation of acts of terrorism and belonging to a proscribed organisation.

During a review of the case at Belfast Crown Court, a prosecution lawyer told Mr Justice Treacy: "Extradition proceedings in Dublin are listed for July 19 this year.

Mr Justice Treacy said the case would be mentioned again in September.

McLaughlin's disappearance only came to light in January this year at the same court when a prosecution lawyer asked for his bail to be revoked after he could not be found at his bail address.

The lawyer told Mr Justice Treacy that McLaughlin failed to sign with police in November.

He said that on December 23 last, police called to the address which "appears to have effectively been cleared out".

Milk that was four weeks out of date was found in the fridge.

McLaughlin's disappearance while on bail provoked outcry from Mr Black's family who said they "felt let down and hurt by the justice system''.

His widow Yvonne, daughter Kyra and son Kyle were later visited by the PSNI officer leading the manhunt, detective chief superintendent Raymond Murray "to offer sincere apologies on behalf of the PSNI for the stress and worry this situation is creating for them".

The failure by the PSNI to carry out regular bail checks on McLaughlin is currently the subject of a Police Ombudsman investigation.

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