The PSNI has said it reached out to David Black’s family about the disappearance of a man due for trial in relation to his murder before it was revealed at Belfast Crown Court last Friday.
Asked why it took officers almost four weeks for officers to check the Belfast bail address of Damien McLaughlin after he failed to sign at the station in November, Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray said on behalf of the PSNI: “We can’t begin to contemplate the distress that David Black’s family are feeling following the disclosure of breach of bail conditions by the individual charged with offences in connection with his murder and we fully take on board the concerns they have.
“We contacted Mr Black’s family last week prior to the court proceedings taking place to make them aware of the situation surrounding bail.
“We have also arranged a further meeting with them to discuss their concerns.
“While I would like to reassure Mr Black’s family, and the public, that our priority is to locate Damien McLaughlin, we are limited in what we can comment on publicly due to the ongoing legal proceedings.
“We are continuing to make active enquiries in relation to the whereabouts of Damien McLaughlin and are liaising with other police services including An Garda Siochana.
“If anyone has any information please contact the PSNI on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Under fire by local politicians for their monitoring of McLaughlin’s bail conditions, they added that they strongly objected to his bail in court, and to its subsequent relaxation when he had his tag device removed and the amount bail was set at reduced. McLaughlin was to sign on five days a week.