Published Tuesday, 01 July 2014
Sean McVeigh walks free from court after charges against him are dropped. (© Pacemaker)
A prosecution lawyer told Craigavon Magistrates' Court on Tuesday that he was applying to have both the charges against 33-year-old McVeigh withdrawn.
Accordingly, District Judge Mervyn Bates dismissed the charges of murdering prison officer David Black and possessing the AK47 assault rifle used in the killing on 1 November 2012.
Mr Black, a 52-year-old father-of-two, was murdered as he drove along the motorway on his way to work at high security Maghaberry Prison.
He was the 31st prison officer to be murdered - the first killed in more than 20 years.
McVeigh, 33, from Victoria Street in Lurgan, had always denied the charges.
Judge Bates told him that once prison paper work had been completed, he would be freed.
Dozens of supporters in the public gallery clapped and cheered the decision but were admonished by the judge who ordered them "outside - I will not have that behaviour in the court".
During previous unsuccessful bail applications, a prosecuting lawyer claimed McVeigh was linked to the murder as he was seen on CCTV buying hats and gloves in one shop and matches and a bleaching agent in another shop before carrying them in a bag to an address at Victoria Place in Lurgan.
The car used by the killers had allegedly been bought in Co Leitrim by Damien McLoughlin, 37, and brought to the same property the same day. On the morning of the murder, it left at the Kilwilkie Estate around 6.30am and within 20 minutes, Mr Black was dead.
McLoughlin, from the Kilmascally Road in Dungannon, is on remand accused of aiding and abetting the murder, buying the car in preparation of an act of terrorism, possessing an article for use in terrorism and membership of the IRA.
A third defendant, 29-year-old Fiona McFadden from Killough Gardens in Lurgan, is charged with perverting justice by giving the alleged killers a false alibi.
A preliminary enquiry, potentially to commit McVeigh, McLaughlin and McFadden to the Crown Court for trial, was due to be held last week but was adjourned.
In a statement from McVeigh's solicitors KRW Law, Mr Peter Corrigan said given the charges against McVeigh being dropped, he would now be seeking damages from the police and PPS in the civil courts.
"We have always pointed to the fact that McVeigh still possessed the matches, which were bought in a shop near his home, after the shooting happened and that the hat and gloves were found among his work tools in his own vehicle," the statement said.
"Furthermore there remains no evidence to indicate that gloves or hats were used in the murder.
"From as early as the day our client was charged, he put forward an alibi and from as early as the first day at court, we have asked that the PPS review the charges."
It continued: "Only today, five months on, have the prosecution reviewed the case and made a decision based on what the evidence has always dictated.
"There has been considerable adverse publicity for him and his family relating to this murder. It has now been proven that our client is totally innocent.
"Our client will now be instigating civil proceedings against the PSNI and PPS for the time he has spent in custody."
© UTV News