David Black: Widow of prison officer murdered by IRA appeals for information 10 years on

Yvonne Black, widow of Prison Officer David Black, who was killed on November 1, 2012, by the New IRA Credit: PA

The widow of murdered prison officer David Black has issued a plea for information to help catch his killers 10 years on in the hope of bringing her family “some level of peace”. An increased reward of £20,000 has been offered for information leading to the prosecution of those responsible. David Black, 52, a father-of-two from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, was killed in a drive-by shooting on November 1 2012.

He was targeted as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison at 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. To date, detectives from the PSNI and Garda Síochána have made 12 arrests on both sides of the Irish border, undertaken numerous searches of premises and vehicles and taken more than 1,000 statements. No-one has yet been convicted of Mr Black’s murder. His widow Yvonne has 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.”

Mrs Black continued: “Ten years have passed since David was stolen away from us; David was a good man, he was 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. “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. “I have 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. “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.” Mrs Black said her husband’s loss has left a “massive gaping hole” in the family.

“You put a face on for the world and you do, because you have to get on, life is precious, but you realise that your life will never be the same,” she said. “I remember in the beginning saying that you drop something and it smashes into 1,000 pieces. You can lift it up and stick it all together and if you stand far enough back it looks like the same thing, but it doesn’t. And I will never be the same. My children will never be the same. My family will never be the same because we have been robbed from a very precious person who loved life and was just about to retire. “There’s so many things that we had planned and none of that has came to fruition and we have been robbed and I’ve been robbed of my future in regards to all the plans that we had made.” Mrs Black said the family wanted to see justice done.

“I suppose I was always brought up that right was right and wrong was wrong and murder is never and can never be justified,” she said. “And if it can never be justified, then there has to be consequences for that and there should be justice.” Kenny Donaldson of the victims’ group SEFF said Mr Black was a “respected, hard-working family man who was contributing as best he could to make this society a better place for all to live”. He said prisoners had spoken of their respect for Mr Black. “It is a matter of huge regret that those responsible for David’s murder have yet to be held accountable and there remains individuals within the community who continue to hold information which would strengthen the case against the perpetrators,” he added. 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 November 1 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, November 1, 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 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.” Anyone with information for police which could help bring David’s killers before the courts can be provided to detectives on 101. Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously via Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. 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 Fein’s Martin McGuinness, the then-Irish premier Enda Kenny and members of the US administration.

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