Court 'has no power to compel disclosure from PSNI'

The PSNI will not disclose material relating to the murder of Northern Ireland prison officer David Black because it could jeopardise the ongoing investigation into the killing, the Special Criminal Court in Dublin heard today.

The court was told that defence lawyers are seeking disclosure of material relating to the PSNI investigation into the murder for the trial of a Dublin man for withholding information, which is due to start next week.

Vincent Banks (aged 44) of Smithfield Gate Apartments, Smithfield, Dublin 7, is charged with membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on December 18, 2012.

He is also charged with withholding information in relation to the murder of David Black on November 1, 2012.

Today, Banks’s counsel Mr Micheal P. O’Higgins SC said that the case against Banks was an allegation that he bought the Toyota car that was used in the killing.

He said the charges arise from a joint investigation by the Gardaí and the PSNI and that nine of the first 10 witnesses in the book of evidence are PSNI officers.

He said that a number of people were arrested in the North by the PSNI and interviewed by them in connection with the murder and the defence had sought disclosure from the gardaí of the PSNI material.

He said there was a “real and serious risk of an unfair trial” if the case went ahead without the defence being given access to the PSNI material.

Detective Inspector Anthony Lenihan, Special Detective Unit, said that the PSNI officer in charge of the investigation had told him that disclosure is a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service, not the police.

The PSNI officer had told him it was an ongoing police investigation and it may “jeopardise” the investigation and alert other people that they are the subject of investigation.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding, said that the court had no power to compel disclosure from outside the jurisdiction and the court was satisfied that the prosecution had taken all reasonable steps to provide disclosure to the defence.

He said the trial will proceed next Tuesday. The trial is expected to last four weeks.

Father-of-two David Black (aged 52), who worked at the high security Maghaberry jail in Co Antrim, was shot dead as he drove to work on a motorway near Lurgan in Co Armagh on November 1 last.

Dissident republicans have claimed responsibility.

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