Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

He was waiting to go to hospital when eight police officers raided his home

Man left shaken by botched search

A man with a series of serious health problems says he has been left traumatised after police battered his front door down in a botched drugs raid.

John Leech said he was waiting for a lift ahead of a hospital appointment when up to eight police officers broke through the front door of his property in Ballycastle.

The 61-year-old — who suffers from a number of health problems including a heart condition and diabetes — said he has been taking medication to settle his nerves since officers raided the wrong address for in a drugs search. The number of Mr Leech’s house is clearly visible on the front door of the property at which he lives with his pet terrier dog.

He said he is contemplating moving from his Co Antrim home due to fears of a repeat mix-up.

The incident happened last Thursday at around 10am.

Mr Leech said he was standing in the hallway of his home in the town when he heard a crashing noise and police officers filed into his house.

“I didn’t hear them shouting ‘police’ or knocking the door first and I was only a couple of feet from it,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“If they had knocked I would have let them in. I told them I’d no problem with them searching the house if they had wanted.”

Mr Leech said the officers realised immediately they had got the wrong property.

“As soon as they came in they all just looked at me and one said they had got the wrong house.

“They apologised and gave me a letter to fill in to get my door fixed. I was told it will be two or three weeks before the door can be properly fixed.”

Mr Leech, who has lived at the house for two years, said he was badly shaken by the incident.

“I live on my own here and I’ve no family apart from my sister who lives nearby,” he said.

“I’ve no qualms with the police in general and they were nice enough about it but if they had just knocked they could have come in, no bother.”

A police spokeswoman confirmed the botched raid and apologised to Mr Leech.

“We regret the error made on this occasion in entering the wrong address and have apologised to the householder,” she said. “We have also advised our officers of the matter in order to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.

“Police were well intended with this search. It is very important that police are able to fight crime effectively and our aim is always to protect the communities of Ballycastle and make them safer.

“Thousands of searches are carried out every year within Northern Ireland which are vital in detecting crime and bringing people before the courts.

“Unfortunately, whilst it is not our intention, damage to property can occur as a result of searches. Where appropriate, compensation will be paid to the householder if damage is caused to their property.”

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