Murdered prison officer a ‘hard working, family man’

A PRISON officer murdered after shots were fired at his car has been named as 52 year-old David Black from Cookstown.

Mr Black, who was from the Orritor Road area of the town, was killed on a stretch of the M1 motorway on his way to work at 7.30am this morning. He was a very experienced officer, close to retirement, who had worked through the Troubles.

Police are investigating a link between the attack and a burnt-out car found in Lurgan, County Armagh.

The killing has been condemned by politicians across the province and by first and deputy first ministers who described the prison officer’s murder as “brutal”.

Cookstown Councillor Trevor Wilson, who knew Mr Black, described him as a “hard working, family man”.

“David was a hard working, family man. He was going about his normal daily job and was brutally murdered as a result.”

“My deepest sympathies and prayers are with his wife Yvonne and children at this traumatic time.”

DUP Mid-Ulster Ian McCrea said the murder has sent shockwaves through the community.

“David was such an easy-going man. Even speaking to some of those who worked with him in the Prison Service say he did more to help the prisoners than he needed to,” he said.

“It’s just sad, this family were getting ready for him to retire, to retire young and spend the rest of his days relaxing with family. Now they have to cope with his brutal murder.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Mr Balck’s wife, children and wider family circle.”

In a joint statement, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness said there could be no justification for this murder.

“Actions like this have no place in society and those who carried out this murder have nothing positive to contribute.

“We refuse to let the people behind this attack divert us from building a better and peaceful future for everyone,” they said.

Justice Minister David Ford said the murder was “shocking news for everyone in Northern Ireland”.

“My sympathy goes out to his family and colleagues. It is a family and a human tragedy,” he said.

“But this is a sign of those seeking to drag us back into the past when most of NI is preparing for a different future.”

Chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association of Northern Ireland Finlay Spratt, paid tribute to Mr Black and urged anyone with information on the murder to come forward.

“He’s a long serving officer. He served this community right down through the Troubles, the hunger strike and everything.

“This officer did his bit for the community,” he said.

“I call on the community in the area that those people come from to hand them over and let justice be seen to be done,” he said.

Dissident republicans are thought to be behind the attack.