Officer's widow wants 'no retaliation'

Published Thursday, 01 November 2012
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The family of the serving prison officer, who died after being ambushed by gunmen as he drove along the M1 motorway near Lurgan, have appealed for no retaliation.

David Black, 52 and from Cookstown, is the 30th prison officer to be killed in Northern Ireland since 1974. He had served for more than 30 years and was nearing retirement.

On Thursday evening, his widow Yvonne and their son and daughter said "sadness and grief in another home will achieve nothing".

Mr Black is understood to have been travelling to work at Maghaberry high-security prison - where protests by dissident republican inmates have been ongoing - at about 7.30am on Thursday.

He was driving a black Audi A4 (registration HHZ 1560), when a dark-blue Toyota Camry with a Dublin registration (94 D 50997) pulled up alongside and a number of shots were fired.

The victim's car immediately veered off the road and into a deep drainage ditch.

Police have examined the scene and are also investigating a car - believed to be the Dublin reg Camry - burnt-out in the Inglewood area of Lurgan, Co Armagh.

At this stage, officers believe Mr Black sustained "very serious and fatal gunshot wounds" in the attack. A post-mortem is due to be carried out.

This morning, a prison officer - David Black - whose profession is simply to keep people safe, was brutally murdered on his way to work.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott

"Please be assured that the Police Service of Northern Ireland will do everything possible to bring those responsible to justice," Chief Constable Matt Baggott said.

"I would ask everybody to get right behind the murder investigation as the hours and days unfold. This is an attack on all people and we need the full support of everyone."

Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris added: "The motive behind this is sheer terror."

Reverend Tom Greer, of Molesworth Presbyterian Church, told UTV that Mr Black "was a lovely guy to know in so many ways.

"David was not a man to make enemies of anyone.

"He was a guy whose friendship I and others in our church valued greatly."

The father-of-two's murder has been condemned by the First and deputy First Ministers, by representatives of parties across political divides and by the Dublin and London governments.

Justice Minister David Ford branded the murder "horrific".

"At the outset, I want to express my deepest sympathy to the family and colleagues of the murdered prison officer," he said.

"This is a horrific murder, for which there can be no justification, and it will be rightly condemned by all across Northern Ireland."

Mr Ford added: "At its very core, this is a human tragedy. A man has lost his life this morning and a family are grieving the loss of their loved one. My thoughts are also with the wider Prison Service family.

"We need to respond to this horrific act by bringing those responsible to justice."

Kate Carroll, the widow of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll who was shot dead by dissidents in 2009, told UTV that she had feared another attack against a member of security forces would happen.

"I can't even imagine how those people are going to feel but, from my perspective, it was the worst news I had ever been given in my life," she added.

You knew that it may happen, just because of the wearing of the uniform ... When you see the people going to deliver that news, it's devastating.

Kate Carroll

Chair of the Policing Board Brian Rea said members were unanimous in their condemnation of the prison officer's killing.

"This man's family, friends and colleagues have received the worst news possible and our thoughts are with them all at this terrible time," he said.

"There can be no justification for this murder. As a community we have travelled too far to allow the progress made to be undermined by ruthless people.

"That is the overwhelming view of the majority."

Mr Black was a member of the Orange Order and the institution says his death brings the number of members murdered in terrorist attacks since 1969 to 337.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, paid tribute to the victim.

"David was a devoted and loyal member of Montober LOL 661 for approximately 30 years, as well as a fine prison officer," he said.

"His professionalism throughout the worst of the Troubles, and beyond, is in stark contrast to the cowardly and faceless terrorists who today have left a wife without her husband and two children without their father."

The M1 was closed in both directions for much of the day, but has since reopened.

Police are urging anyone with information to call 0845 600 8000 and ask for the murder incident room, or to pass information anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
69 Comments
Minnie in Belfast wrote (530 days ago):
You've got to hand it to the dissidents, this was a masterstroke - what a way to further a cause you believe in. Search for a man who holds down a job, pays taxes, works towards retirement, work out when he'll be alone and vulnerable, outnumber and outweapon him (just to make it a fair fight) and then strike. Result! another contributing member of society taken out, another defenceless person slaughtered by weekend warriors hiding behind masks and fleeing the scene, another family trying to make sense of it all, they must be so proud of themselves these utter geniuses that still persist to fight this 'war'. Sincere condolences to the Black family.
Iain in Belfast wrote (530 days ago):
Ryan, you of all people have a cheek telling someone to "use their brain". As per usual, you side step the issue at hand and instead look to some perceived slight/conspiracy against the republican community. What planet are you on mate? Same goes for Pol mac, do you clowns seriously believe that dissident republicans had nothing to do with this? The dog on the street could tell you they are behind it but do go on living in a bubble. You along with a couple of others posters here seem to have some form of sympathy with the disidents and the methods they use, pathetic. Use your brain - if that's possible.
jackie in belfast wrote (531 days ago):
@ ryan 1st of all i object to being called love as i am not gay,lol.2nd i do have a fine brain,maybe its just me but how did killing innocent people advance your community ?While there are people of your mindset out there these horrific murders will continue to take place !
Pat in Tyrone wrote (531 days ago):
I would like to offer my sincere condolences and prayers to the family of David Black. Their hearts are broken and their lives devastated. So many people are praying for them and they are in our thoughts and prayers constantly. May God give them the strength to carry this horrendous cross. Those who carried out this atrocity have to meet their maker someday and answer for their actions. They call themselves Irishmen, they disgust me. They bring shame on the name of Ireland and what they have done is simply evil. You have no place in our society. I pray the law of the land catches up with you and brings you to justice.
Ciaran wright in Perth western Australia wrote (531 days ago):
Sad to see my home town going back down the black hole !! Thoughts and prayers with family
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